Youth & Social Lives of Chemicals

Contemporary anthropological theory tends to focus on the body as text, in the process diminishing its material significance. With the focus on what bodies culturally represent and their symbolic meanings, representation has been privileged over materiality and embodied experience, with unequal consideration for how bodies are lived, both socially and biologically. The current inquiry will place both chemical materiality and sociality centre stage.

The markets for pharmaceuticals and beauty are among the world’s most profitable, catering to the growing worldwide demand for happiness, pleasure and well-being. Knowledge on the effects and affects of chemicals circulate through both formal and informal networks, on the internet and through the creative multi-level marketing of novel products. Chemical-use is embedded and conditioned by ever-changing urban youth cultures, local drug markets, health care institutions and policies, and by state interventions that constrain availability and use in various ways.

While the government focus their attention more on the abuse of illegal drugs, fail to notice that abusing other chemicals is as dangerous illegal drugs, can be addictive, and may lead to death. Many youths use kinds of chemicals without proper knowledge of the effects. We are looking for papers which concern with “social life of chemicals”: why do youths use chemicals in their everyday lives? What effects are they seeking? What role do chemicals play in calming their fears, in achieving their dreams and aspirations?

Panel Coordinator:

Nurul Ilmi Idrus (Universitas Hasanuddin)
Anita Hardon (University van Amsterdam)


  1. ‘Bekerja versus Bersenang-senang’: Chemical Lives di Kalangan Pekerja Fisik di Kota Makassar [Ahsani A.A.]
  2. ‘Minuman Gaul’: Tren Konsumsi Minuman Energi di Kalangan Pelajar di Luwu Timur [Anwar]
  3. ‘Inside the Drinking Cyrcle’: On the Sensorial, Affective, and Socio-material Dimensions of Cap Tikus in Manado [Nastasja Roels]
  4. ‘Popper’: Sex After Clubbing di Kalangan Remaja Menengah Atas di Makassar [Lia Amelia]
  5. ‘Nda’ Mabuk, Nda Solid’: Mabuk Murah dan Solidaritas Diantara Remaja Punk di Kota Makassar [Hairul Anwar]
  6. Ber-KB ala Remaja [Arida Wijayanti]
  7. ‘Putih Racikan’: Stigma terhadap Remaja Pengguna Pemutih Kulit [Firnayanti]
  8. ‘Four-in-One’: Pria Metroseksual, Dandan dan Zat-zat Kimia [Anis Yulia]
  9. ‘Islam, Beauty and Halal Cosmetics’: Female Youth Expressing Spirituality Through Cosmetics [Nurul Ilmi Idrus & A. Batara Al-Isra]
  10. Mumbul di Malam Kenakalan: Pelajar dan Penyalahgunaan obat-obat resep [Sutriyani Fauzan]