How do we understand the relationship between tobacco and humans in light of the fact that tobacco has become one of the most widely used and traded commodities on the planet? In Anthropology of Tobacco, Life of Breath researcher Andrew Russell re-frames the tobacco plant, flipping it from a passive commodity into a powerful player at the centre of a global adventure involving people, corporations, and public health.
Examined from a range of perspectives, Anthropology of Tobacco weaves together stories from historical, cross-cultural and literary sources, as well as empirical research. These combine with contemporary anthropological theories of agency and cross-species relationships to offer fresh perspectives on how this apparently humble plant has progressed to world domination. It also considers what needs to happen if, as some public health advocates would have it, we are to seriously imagine ‘a world without tobacco’.
Andrew is a medical anthropologist at Durham University. His research focuses on tobacco, its use and control.