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Forcing Things Together That Are Normally Kept Apart

Public Health Knowledge and Smoking Practice

Simone J. Dennis


Current anthropological investigations of smoking offer limited insights into the practice, as they fail to account for how smokers and smoke itself draw things together that are assumed or desired to be kept apart. One of the qualities of smoke is its capacity to link disparate temporalities, spaces, and persons, whether or not connections between them are desirable. Smokers, themselves, too, draw together things as ostensibly different as cautionary public health information about smoking with its potentialities. The capability of smoke and smokers to connect disparate things tends to be overlooked in prevailing present-day anthropological analyses. This occurs when anthropologists align with public health approaches that privilege cessation agendas, rather than taking an independent approach that is anthropologically curious.