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Fall 2023 Roy A. Rappaport Lecture Series: In Praise of Addiction

Elizabeth F.S. Roberts, professor of anthropology
Friday, December 1, 2023
3:00-5:00 PM
Assembly Hall Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.) Map
The Department of Anthropology proudly presents the Fall 2023 Roy A. Rappaport Lecture Series:

Elizabeth F.S. Roberts
Professor of Anthropology

3:00 - 5:00 PM
In Person: Rackham Assembly Hall
Virtually: Zoom -

MON. SEPT. 18: "A Short History of Dependency, Addiction and Vice"
(Zoom recording:

FRI. OCT. 6: "Devotion and Defiance in Mexico City"
(Zoom recording:

FRI. NOV. 10: "Case Studies in Hoarding and Gobbling"
(Zoom recording:

FRI. DEC. 1: "In Praise of Addiction: An Invitation"


This four-part lecture series offers an ethnographic counternarrative to the never-ending U.S. Drug Wars that are justified by our profound disdain for dependency. Roberts juxtaposes this disdain with what she learned from her working-class neighbors in Mexico City. In their neighborhoods, vices are dependencies that isolate, while addictions are dependencies that connect. Neither state is shameful.

Could praising rather than pathologizing addiction reduce the staggering violence and racist incarcerations of the Drug Wars? And might more of us survive if we stopped shaming ourselves for our dependencies?


Elizabeth F.S. Roberts is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, who investigates scientific and public health knowledge production and its embodied effects in Latin America and the United States. She currently collaborates with engineers and environmental health scientists in the United States and Mexico as part of two ongoing team-based projects in Mexico City that she directs: “Mexican Exposures: A Bioethnographic Approach to Health and Inequality” and “Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems: Water Quality, Public Trust, and Health in Mexico City” (NESTSMX). In these projects, she and her team trace the looping social, economic, biological, and technical processes that shape everyday life, health, and inequality in working class neighborhoods. One of the key aims of Professor Roberts’ current work is the development of bioethnography, a method that combines social and life sciences approaches in order to make better knowledge about health and inequality. Dr. Roberts’ earlier research focused on assisted reproduction in the United States and Ecuador, reproductive governance in Latin America, and transnational medical migrations. She is the author of the book "God’s Laboratory: Assisted Reproduction in the Andes" (Univ. of California Press 2012) and is currently finishing her book manuscript on addiction called "In Praise of Addiction: Devotion and Defiance in a Damaged World."

The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) greatly values inclusion and access for all. We are pleased to provide reasonable accommodations to enable your full participation in this event.

Please email if you would like to request disability accommodations or have any questions or concerns. We ask that you provide advance notice to ensure sufficient time to meet requested accommodations.
Building: Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.)
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: AEM Featured, Anthropology, Law, Nursing, Psychology, Public Health, Sociology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology
Upcoming Dates:
Friday, December 1, 2023 3:00-5:00 PM  (Last)