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Publisher Description

'Relations of substance,' so I thought, was a catchy subtitle with a suggestive double meaning for a collection on drugs in the Pacific that was published in 1987 (Lindstrom 1987b). This book appeared just as marijuana was spreading deeply in the hinterlands of Papua New Guinea (Marshall 2004:215). Aside from brief accounts in regional newspapers, however, this 'Pacification' of marijuana had not yet much been noticed. Only one chapter in the 1987 collection dealt with marijuana use, on Chuuk (Larson 1987), reflecting marijuana's earlier and greater presence within Micronesia. The drug has now spread rapidly into both urban and rural Pacific communities, the latest in a line of global 'drug-foods' (Jankowiak and Bradburd 2003). These substances were also among the earliest global commodities: tobacco, caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, and cacao, alcohol, opium, cocaine, and one might as well count in sugar here too (Mintz 1985). All of these drug-foods have now spread into the Pacific to augment the two traditional Pacific drug substances, betel and kava, both of which are used in Papua New Guinea. A second titular offering, 'relating with drugs,' introduced the 1987 volume's themes by previewing the relational aspects of Pacific drug production, exchange, and consumption. I argued that 'drug substances are special exchange tokens' and 'a focus on Pacific drug production, exchange and consumption helps to reveal the structures and meanings of interpersonal relations in a variety of social contexts' (Lindstrom 1987b:ix). Marilyn Strathern generously provided a provocative conclusion to the collection. Strathern riffed on the notion of 'substance' to argue that drugs are unlike food, sexual fluids, or sweat. They, in fact, lack true substance. They differ from other, more substantial substances, mediated through social relationships, which can both effect and affect bodies. The work, the fluids, and the food produced and shared by mothers and fathers, for example, create their children.

November 1
University of Sydney
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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