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Vol. 5 No. 5: December issue

‘They might mistake you for an “informant”’: Anthropology in the time of the Philippine drug war

  • Gideon Lasco
October 26, 2017


This article is a reflection on doing anthropology in the Philippines amid the government’s punitive antidrug campaign and on the impact of ethnographic research on public discourses on drugs. Using my own ethnographic research as a starting point, I outline how a journal article I published about the lived experiences of young men who use drugs took on renewed significance years later, in a different policy regime. I then outline a research agenda for the anthropology of drug use in the country. Despite the ethical, methodological, and personal challenges of drug-related research, the potential to give voice to ‘hidden populations’ and argue for humane, evidenced-based policies should encourage anthropologists and other social scientists to persevere.