Chemical species: the art and politics of living with(out) drugs after addiction

Dennis, Fay. 2023. Chemical species: the art and politics of living with(out) drugs after addiction. BioSocieties, 18(3), pp. 545-566. ISSN 1745-8552 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We live within and are made up of ever-changing chemical flows. Witnessing a “chemical turn” in the social sciences, this article asks what a chemical reading of drugs and bodies can offer an understanding of drug dependency and recovery. Where chemicals render bodies “molecular” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987), they open them up to more intimate forms of connection that extend our understanding of drug–body relationships beyond limiting categories such as addiction. Rather than a chemical drug entering a biological body, there are chemical interactions that expand the boundaries of where one ends and the other begins. While chemicals have long been a preoccupation in neurological models of addiction, they are seldom taken up in sociological studies of these concerns. Drawing on a series of body-mapping workshops with people in drug recovery/treatment in London, UK, to track these chemical bodies, this article explores the art of living a chemically transformed life. This is an art that thinks with Isabelle Stengers’ (in Stengers and Savransky, 2018) notion of the word to include “not paying attention” as a mode of “paying attention to what may lurk” in living with the ongoing effects of drugs in unequally entangled worlds.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Art-based methods, “chemical turn”, Drug use and ‘addiction’, Entanglement, Paying attention

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]


23 July 2022Accepted
27 September 2022Published Online
September 2023Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2022 08:36

Last Modified:

31 Jul 2023 13:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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