Last May we successfully held an international workshop on drinking alcohol as sociocultural practice in the Arctic. Our focus was on drinking both in indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The High North is notorious for the excessive use of alcohol and is associated primarily with the negative themes like alcohol related injuries, violence, suicide, decline of indigenous traditions, culture shock and other misfortunes that result from binge-drinking. Despite the scholarly take and state institutions’ efforts to limit alcohol use, most people still continue to drink, an activity associated not only with death and loss but also with leisure, pleasure and celebration. Alcohol is deeply embedded within many rituals such as the greeting of an honoured guest, a demonstration of masculinity or as a part of religious ceremony.
Inspired by lively discussions at the last workshop, we decided to continue with the same topic from a slightly different angle. The aim is to widen both the scope as well as the geographic area. Our particular interest lies in the dimensions of morality and power related to the use of alcohol and the concept of (ir)responsibility both inside the communities as well as in the state discourse. We would like to invite talks on how individuals, groups, NGOs, churches, alcohol industry and the state conceptualise “moderate” and “excessive” alcohol consumption, to what extent people are held responsible for their actions when intoxicated, how do culturally varying concepts of personhood are reflected in the discourse of drinking, what kind of social partnerships emerge and disappear, how do drinking patterns influence other social and cultural aspects of a functioning community and similar. While last year we concentrated on the phenomenon of ‘Arctic drinking’ (whether it exists or not), at the next workshop we would like to include more researchers (anthropologists, sociologists, researchers in alcohol policies, medical experts) from other-than-Arctic areas in order to take further our comparative endeavour in understanding social and cultural aspects of drinking.
The discussant will be professor Nikolai Vakhtin, European University at St. Petersburg.
Please send your 300 words (maximum) abstract to Aimar Ventsel (Aimar.Ventsel@ut.ee) by February 15, 2014.