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Book Talk. Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic by Eugene Raikhel

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Please join us for the fifth event of our Work of Care in Russia speaker series, a book talk by Eugene Raikhel, author of Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic (Cornell University Press, 2016). Moderated by Svetlana Borodina.

Critics of narcology—as addiction medicine is called in Russia—decry it as being “backward,” hopelessly behind contemporary global medical practices in relation to addiction and substance abuse, and assume that its practitioners lack both professionalism and expertise. On the basis of his research in a range of clinical institutions managing substance abuse in St. Petersburg, Eugene Raikhel increasingly came to understand that these assumptions and critiques obscured more than they revealed. Governing Habits is an ethnography of extraordinary sensitivity and awareness that shows how therapeutic practice and expertise is expressed in the highly specific, yet rapidly transforming milieu of hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers in post Soviet Russia. Rather than interpreting narcology as a Soviet survival or a local clinical world on the wane in the face of globalizing evidence-based medicine, Raikhel examines the transformation of the medical management of alcoholism in Russia over the past twenty years.

Raikhel’s book is more than a story about the treatment of alcoholism. It is also a gripping analysis of the many cultural, institutional, political, and social transformations taking place in the post-Soviet world, particularly in Putin’s Russia. Governing Habits will appeal to a wide range of readers, from medical anthropologists, clinicians, to scholars of post-Soviet Russia, to students of institutions and organizational change, to those interested in therapies and treatments of substance abuse, addiction, and alcoholism.

 

Eugene Raikhel is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Comparative Human Develoment and Director of the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the University of Chicago. He is a cultural and medical anthropologist with interests encompassing the anthropology of science, biomedicine and psychiatry; addiction and its treatment; suggestion and healing; and post-socialist transformations in Eurasia.

 

 

The Work of Care in Russia

This speaker series, organized by Svetlana Borodina and co-sponsored by the IU Russian Studies Workshop, will explore how Soviet and post-Soviet Russian care workers have been sustaining lives, and why sometimes their efforts hurt rather than heal. Our speakers include historians and anthropologists who will discuss the global and domestic pressures and victories of post/socialist care work in Russia. We invite you to learn about the controversial work of Soviet defectologists, the operations of the notorious system of institutionalized care for disabled people in contemporary Russia, the labors of traditional Buryat healers, the mental health care industry, and the addiction treatment sector of Russian health care.

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