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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2021

Chemical Youth

Navigating Uncertainty in Search of the Good Life

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Situates chemical enhancement in terms of the challenges that young people face in managing a range of expectations and pressures

  • Uses ethnographic material from young people across the globe, including The Netherlands, USA, Indonesia and the Philippines

  • Examines how young people view the risks of using chemical substances, confronting the uncertainty of the practice while also attending to the perceived benefits

Part of the book series: Critical Studies in Risk and Uncertainty (CRSTRU)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Introduction

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 1-41Open Access
  3. Chemical Highs

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 43-79Open Access
  4. Chemical Breath

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 81-111Open Access
  5. Chemical Sexualities

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 113-144Open Access
  6. Chemical Whiteness

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 145-181Open Access
  7. Chemical 24/7

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 183-213Open Access
  8. Chemical Supplementing

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 215-246Open Access
  9. Chemical Creativity

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 247-279Open Access
  10. Chemical Futures

    • Anita Hardon
    Pages 281-310Open Access
  11. Back Matter

    Pages 311-318

About this book

This open access book explores how young people engage with chemical substances in their everyday lives. It builds upon and supplements a large body of literature on young people’s use of drugs and alcohol to highlight the subjectivities and socialities that chemical use enables across diverse socio-cultural settings, illustrating how young people seek to avoid harm, while harnessing the beneficial effects of chemical use.


The book is based on multi-sited anthropological research in Southeast Asia, Europe and the US, and presents insights from collaborative and contrasting analysis. Hardon brings new perspectives to debates across drug policy studies, pharmaceutical cultures and regulation, science and technology studies, and youth and precarity in post-industrial societies.


  • Chemo-Ethnography
  • Chemical use
  • Drug policy
  • pharmaceutical culture
  • pharmaceutical ‘personhood’
  • Open access

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Anita Hardon

About the author

Anita Hardon is Professor of Anthropology of Care and Health and Director of the Research Priority Area Global Health at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)