Wednesday, May 1, 2019

[Presentation] Columbia University, New York - Interrogating the Philippine 'Drug War'

On April 22-23, 2019, I joined a conference at the Columbia Journalism School in New York City entitled "Violence and Policing in the Philippines, Latin America, and the U.S.", where I presented some insights from historical and ethnographic studies of drugs in the Philippines.

As in previous presentations, I reiterated three main points: First, that Duterte is best seen as a continuation or escalation - not an exception - to Philippine drug policy: one that views drugs as ‘evil’ and sanctions punitive measures; second, the ethnographic picture shows that drugs are ‘useful’ in the everyday lives of young people and therefore any response must consider their socio-economic situations. 

Finally, drawing on my own research, I highlighted how anxiety and fear characterize young people’s outlooks: they view law enforcement as unfair, corrupt, and hypocritical. 

The conference offered various perspectives from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, US - as well as various voices from the Philippines. Hopefully, a kind of engagement that finds value in Philippines-Latin America comparisons and collaborations will continue. And so will the work that documents and challenges the violent drug policies in the Philippines as well as the conditions that enable them. 

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