'Imagine a world without tobacco': utopian visions and collaborative research in public health
Andrew Russell (Durham University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at ‘end game scenarios’ in tobacco control and asks what if anything social anthropological approaches to utopianism have to offer the collaborative fulfillment of smoke-free goals.
Paper long abstract:
The utopian invitation to 'imagine a world without tobacco' is one increasingly rehearsed in contemporary tobacco control, where 'end game scenarios' are now regularly discussed and strategies for their achievement devised and implemented. This paper reviews some of the different end game scenarios that are posited, and asks what if anything social anthropological approaches to utopianism have to offer collaborative work in this field. In particular, it will reflect on research conducted in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the North East of England. In the former case, government policy is for a smoke-free future in eleven years' time, supported by 'research for a tobacco-free Aotearoa' led by ASPIRE 2025. In the latter case 'Fresh', the UK's first tobacco control office runs a strapline 'making smoking history for our children'. Drawing on Ernst Bloch's 'ontology of not-yet-being' and Miyazaki (2004)'s 'performative inheritance of hope', the paper asks how the mutuality that is inherent to ethnography might handle utopian visions that opponents construct as dystopian.
Anthropological utopias: debating personal, political and idealist expectations in the intersection of theory and ethnographic practice