Archive of Author | Joshua Burraway

I am a medical anthropologist working at the intersection between social and political theory, cultural phenomenology, addiction medicine, and psychiatry. I am interested in how historical and structural forces shape different modes of subjectivity, in particular with regards to altered states of consciousness induced by psychoactive chemicals. These research interests emerged from a long-term ethnographic study of homeless substance-users in inner-city London, with an analytical focus on the dissociative temporality of the drug-induced blackout. Cutting against the dominant biomedical model of addiction, I conceive the blackout as an embodied escape from the structural and intimate violence of existential boredom – one that is closer to spirit possession than medical pathology.

Currently, I am carrying out a new ethnographic project in Southwest Virginia aimed at exploring how deindustrialization has eroded bonds of social trust and a sense of future possibility and more specifically how these shifts have intersected with the proliferation of opioids and other narcotics, such as methamphetamine. Further to that, I am examining the therapeutic pathways that have emerged in response to this crisis.

My articles on issues of addiction, selfhood, memory, and temporality have appeared in anthropological journals such as Current Anthropology and Ethnos.

Articles with Joshua Burraway


Becoming somebody else

Joshua Burraway is a medical anthropologist working at the intersection between social and political theory, cultural phenomenology, addiction medicine, and psychiatry. He is interested in how historical and structural forces shape different modes of subjectivity, in particular with regards to altered states of consciousness induced by psychoactive chemicals among homeless substance-users.