In Praise of Addiction

Forthcoming from Princeton University Press (2025), In Praise of Addiction offers an ethnographic counternarrative to the never-ending U.S. Drug Wars that are justified by our profound disdain for dependency. Roberts juxtaposes this disdain with what she learned from her working-class neighbors in Mexico City. In their neighborhoods, vices are dependencies that isolate, while addictions are dependencies that connect. Neither state is shameful. Could praising rather than pathologizing addiction reduce the staggering violence and racist incarcerations of the Drug Wars? And might more of us survive if we stopped shaming ourselves for our dependencies?

Roy A. Rappaport Lecture Series: In Praise of Addiction:

Lecture 1: “A Short History of Dependency, Addiction and Vice” (9.18.23)

Lecture 2: “Devotion and Defiance in Mexico City” (10.6.23)

Lecture 3: “Case Studies in Hoarding and Gobbling” (10.10.23)

Lecture 4: “In Praise of Addiction: An Invitation” (12.1.23)

God’s Laboratory

realcoverAssisted reproduction, with its test tubes, injections, and gamete donors, raises concerns about the nature of life and kinship. Yet these concerns do not take the same shape around the world. In this innovative ethnography of in vitro fertilization in Ecuador, Elizabeth F.S. Roberts explores how reproduction by way of biotechnological assistance is not only accepted but embraced despite widespread poverty and condemnation from the Catholic Church. Roberts’ intimate portrait of IVF practitioners and their patients reveals how technological intervention is folded into an Andean understanding of reproduction as always assisted, whether through kin or God. She argues that the Ecuadorian incarnation of reproductive technology is less about a national desire for modernity than it is a product of colonial racial history, Catholic practice, and kinship configurations. God’s Laboratory offers a grounded introduction to critical debates in medical anthropology and science studies, as well as a nuanced ethnography of the interplay between science, religion, race and history in the formation of Andean families.

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