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Illicit Circulations of Pharmaceuticals in Southeast Asia: Trajectories, Objects, Multiplicities

Observatoire des Trafics Illicites contract (2013-2014) | Cermes3 ; IRASEC Bangkok
Coordinator: Laurent Pordié, Cermes3

This project is interested in the illicit circulations of drugs, focusing on the frontier zones separating countries of the Mekong Basin, including Cambodia and Laos. By positing as illicit that which challenges the law or morals, this project is interested as much in illegal dispensaries and counterfeit or out-of-date drugs as in legal pharmaceutical products for which use is regarded as morally deviant. We are focusing on the standards that govern the social and moral space of our geographical areas of investigation, as well as on their transgression. But drugs are not per se stable entities. In practice, active ingredients and their excipients, as well as containers and packaging, are fluid and multiple; their reality changes in the course of their life depending on their trajectories through time and space. Our second series of questions, of a more ontological nature, thus focuses on (what makes) the status of pharmaceutical objects. Within this framework, we examine the ways in which society enters into resonance with its illicit objects and fashions them through a variety of practices relating to control and regulation, production and camouflage, or sale and consumption.

Members of the project: Audrey Bochaton (Nanterre), Mathieu Quet (IRD) and Romain Cassagnaud (MA EHESS)