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Symposium, Book launch and Premiere

February 7, 2018

Symposium on Chemical Youth

A symposium on beauty, height, sexuality, and the Anthropology of the Filipino body

Book launch and premiere

Chemical Youth Project

13 February 2018


GT-Toyota Asian Center

University of the Philippines

Based on a research collaboration by the  Department of Anthropology, UP Diliman and the University of Amsterdam, the ChemicalYouth project draws on medical anthropology and studies of science, technology and contemporary youth culture to study the lived effects of chemicals.

The event features the launching of three collections of ethnographic snapshots in different field sites; in Cagayan de Oro by the 2014 UP Anthropology Field School, in Puerto Princesa by the Palawan Studies Center, and from Indonesia; and the premiere of the documentary film “Sweet Medicine.”

Featured are:

Modernizing Frontier

Chemical Transformations of Young People’s Minds and Bodies in Puerto Princesa

Edited by Anita Hardon and Michael Tan

We draw on medical anthropology and studies of science, technology and contemporary youth culture to study the lived effects of chemicals, which are a combination of their pharmaceutical properties, the beliefs and expectations surrounding their use, and practical experimentation with specific techniques. This collection of reports of ethnographic fieldwork, based on participant observation and long-term immersion in the field, takes place in the island of Palawan in the Philippines. The ChemicalYouth project is based at the University of Amsterdam and is funded by the European Research Council.

Making Bodies Work

Young People’s Everyday Body Management in Urban Mindanao

Edited by Anita Hardon, Michael Tan and Efenita Taqueban

In cities, young people encounter new products, new ideas, and new ways of doing things. With support from the ChemicalYouth project of the University of Amsterdam, the 2014 University of the Philippines Anthropology Field School drew inspiration from medical anthropology and contemporary youth culture to look at how young people in the city use chemicals to manage their bodies to do work, socialize and achieve their dreams. This collection of papers on young people by young people hopes to forward an agenda for youth scholarship that integrates their lived bodily experiences with a concern for how young people live the tensions of achieving decent living and the demands of urban life.

 “Bukan Narkoba Bisa Berbahaya”: Produce Kimia, Aspirasi dan Kehidupan Remaja Edited by Narul Ilmi Idrus and Pande Made Kutanegara

This book is a collection of articles on how youth use chemicals and pharmaceutical in their every day life based on their aspiration in order to be happy, to booster their mood, for sex, to be energetic, for work, health, and performance. How do they achieve such aspiration varies on the basis of gender role, type of work, job demand and income, and social environment. They depend very much on chemicals. They experiment through various dosage, the administration, combine products which begins with ’trying out’ (‘coba-coba’), until they find what is ‘suitable’ (‘cocok’) for their individual body.

Sweet Medicine

This ethnographic documentary is a cinematic translation of Anita Hardon’s fieldwork in Palawan, the Philippines as part of her ChemicalYouth project. Filmed by a local camera crew in Palawan, it follows the lives of those involved with a multi-level marketing company that sells a popular food supplement in the Philippines. Sweet Medicine shows how in old-world island Palawan, where one third of families live below the poverty line and have bad access to sufficient nutrition and healthcare, individuals get caught up in a dangerous pyramid scheme by trying to convince others to buy and believe in this food supplement, with its promises to “treat and prevent all health conditions and make for a better life.” While demonstrating its promised therapeutic values, this film also reveals the widely used herbal product to be problematic for those selling and using it in more ways than one.