NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ847219
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun-12
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
An Anthropologist Bridges Two Worlds
Shea, Christopher
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n39 pB6 Jun 2009
Philippe Bourgois, who has spent his career studying some of America's roughest neighborhoods and subcultures, got an unusually harsh welcome to his new hometown: Last May, during a trip to North Philly to make contact with some drug dealers, he got caught up in a police raid. The arrest was Bourgois's first, though hardly his first brush with risk. In his 1995 book, "In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio," he recounts how one drug kingpin reacted after a newspaper article drew attention to Bourgois's fieldwork with dealers. The University of California Press has just published "Righteous Dopefiend," Bourgois's long-awaited follow-up to his first book. It's an ethnographic work based on more than a decade of studying homeless heroin addicts in San Francisco. Some of his findings, which have trickled out in journal articles and lectures, have already helped change how some doctors in the Bay City treat the most-destitute addicts. Bourgois arrived at the University of Pennsylvania two years ago from the University of California at San Francisco, hired into a special program devised by Penn's president, Amy Gutmann, to expand the university's interdisciplinary offerings. His appointment bridges the anthropology department and the medical school, and part of his mandate is to make sure that medical professors and students don't get so wrapped up in the biochemistry of disease and addiction that they forget about its social context. He also advises M.D./Ph.D. candidates with an interest in social science. Having an interdisciplinary perspective, in a sense, means one serves different masters, and that is unusually evident in Bourgois's case. On the one hand, he is a cultural anthropologist in the humanistic, participant-observer tradition. He can emit at will great clouds of jargon that draw on the writings of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. But he also produces concrete recommendations about treating drug abuse and limiting the spread of blood-borne diseases, which is why the National Institutes of Health has long financed his work.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A