Carroll discusses gender and drug use in Ukraine
April 13, 2017
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Medical Anthropologist and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University Jennifer Carroll gave a lecture on gender and its influence on drug use in Ukraine on April 6. Approximately 20 people attended the lecture
Carroll’s lecture, titled “Of Methadone and Men: The Gender of Drug Use in Wartime Ukraine,” was based on her research on the lived experience of drug use and forces that contribute to drug use, particularly gender. Carroll’s interest in gender as a research lens stemmed from her work studying anthropology.
“Gender is a major pillar of value systems and cultural systems that you learn to deconstruct and study [when studying anthropology],” Carroll said. “I see gender dynamics everywhere.”
Carroll explained that initially she was familiar with drug culture but only had simple, scientifically conservative ideas about drug use. She became interested in studying drug use while working at Outside In, an organization in Portland, OR, that helps homeless youth and marginalized people improve their health and self-sufficiency.
“I decided to go back to graduate school [to study drug use] because I was asking questions the organization wasn’t prepared to answer,” Carroll said.
In her lecture, Carroll noted that the gendered experiences of war are very different and gender in Ukraine is female-oriented. In Ukraine, women are honored because of their obligations to create the nation and to care for the nation, she said.
The anthropology, sociology, and social work departments hosted the lecture.
Trever Schwichtenberg (‘17) attended the lecture for his class, “Gender, Health, and Medicine,” and said that Carroll’s lecture coincided with a theme his class addresses frequently.
“Carroll discussed how gender impacts public health choices,” Schwichtenberg said. “[She provided] a recommendation for better drug policies, including public injection sites for illegal drugs. This is a great example of morals versus what evidence-based research says.”
Carroll is currently writing grants to participate in more projects in Ukraine, and she said her goal is to combine anthropology with the medical skills and resources she has gained since working in a medical school.
“It’s not usual to have an anthropologist working at a medical school,” Carroll said. “It was a really big adjustment, but I’m sold. It’s so much teamwork, so many interesting questions, and a lot of value placed on the diversity of skill in the research team.”
Despite studying such sensitive topics, Carroll said her work is valuable and worthwhile.
“My research has informed my own thinking and knowledge,” Carroll said. “I am constantly running up against preconceived ideas that people are reticent to let go of. The people I study are worth something, and [my goal is] to humanize them for [listeners]. I’m very happy to do that work.”
Carroll met with Luther students in last summer’s Paideia 450 course titled, “Cold Wars: Then and Now,” while they were in Europe. She established her connections to Luther when she met Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies Maryna Bazylevych while working in Ukraine during her research studies.