On Wednesday 27th April at 4pm (UK/Nigeria Time), experts discussed ‘the moral landscapes of drugs in Africa‘ (Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger) during an online seminar hosted by IFRA-Nigeria. This event took place to launch the Politique africaine‘s special journal issue, on the Moral Landscapes of Drugs in Africa, which includes a collection of publications reporting accounts of local populations regarding drugs trafficking in their communities. You may also be interested in our project’s latest publications on the topic: click here.

The Special Issue:

Research on drugs in Africa has struggled to rid itself of assumptions inherited from the colonial period and the global war on drugs launched in the 1980s. Existing research on drugs (cannabis, cocaine and opiates) is often commissioned by states and is part of a primarily political and security agenda. In the context of growing public debate on the legalisation of drugs, such as cannabis, in several African countries, as well as the continued predominance of prohibitionist discourses, this special issue is timely. Contributions to the special issue aim to challenge existing research on drugs and break with an approach that remains mostly focussed on security. 

The journal special issue questions the contemporary reality of drugs in Africa and proposes a theoretical reflection on the important moral dimensions of drugs with new empirical data. The contributions make it possible to take into account the discourses and practices of different actors: consumers, traders, moral authorities and regulators. The research strategy adopted involved questioning the meanings that these actors attribute individually and collectively to drug use and trade, the benefits they derive from them and the moral frameworks that drugs are part of. This issue thus proposes to look at the perceptions of young people, the poor, and urban dwellers assigned to so-called ghettos. it compares these perceptions with those of elites and moral authorities who present themselves as guardians of the moral order. 

The articles of the Special Issue to be presented:

Maxime Ricard (IRSEM) and Felix Kouamé (Université Alassane Ouattara de Bouaké), ‘Smokehouses and Relations of Interdependence: Negotiating the Social Order in Abobo, Abidjan ‘

Annigje van Dijk (KU Leuven) and Roger Zerbo (CNRST), ‘Between Drugs and Society: Moral Experiences and Drug Addiction in Ouagadougou’

Gernot Klantschnig (Bristol) and Ini-Dele Adedeji (Bristol), ‘Opioid of the People: The Moral Economy of Tramadol in Lagos’

The recording of the online seminar

IFRA launch – Moral landscapes of drugs: prohibition from below