Research Areas

Shana is an ethnographic and qualitative researcher with a long-standing interest in drug use, "addiction," global and public health, and science, technology, and medicine in Latin America and the United States. She has studied these issues in a variety of contexts, including projects that examine the utilization of medications for opioid use disorder in the San Francisco Bay Area, college students' access to drug treatment in Florida, heroin use and HIV/AIDS risk in Colombia, recreational GHB use in Northern California, and the co-use of opioids and stimulants across the United States.


Current Research

Shana's current ethnographic research examines psychedelic-based drug treatment in Mexico. She focuses primarily on the therapeutic use of ibogaine, which is derived from a plant native to West Central Africa known as Tabernanthe iboga. It is utilized for "addiction interruption," as a way to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opiates and other drugs. Ibogaine became illegal in the United States in 1967. As a result, clinics have been established in Mexico - where ibogaine is unregulated - that cater to a primarily American clientele looking for this kind of drug treatment. Many pursue this treatment abroad after finding little to no long-term success with mainstream drug treatment modalities, such as 12-step programs and medication-assisted treatment. This research provides insight into the experience of receiving and providing drug treatment with ibogaine and illuminates issues of medical travel associated with this unique treatment. This research is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Florida Education Fund.

Her current collaborative research focuses on harm reduction programs in Florida. As part of the Florida Harm Reduction Research Collaborative, she works with scholars from multiple fields, including anthropology, medicine, public health, and prevention science, to examine how syringe services programs, overdose prevention interventions, and other harm reduction programs are being implemented across the state.

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Doctoral Research

In her doctoral dissertation, "Out of Harm's Way: The Politics and Practice of Harm Reduction in Argentina," Shana ethnographically examined drug use and the politics of intervention involved in the promotion of harm reduction in Argentina. Based on 16 months of fieldwork in Buenos Aires and Rosario from 2006 to 2008, this research traced how harm reduction was adopted by local non-governmental organizations and select government agencies since the mid-1990s. She illustrated how this public health model influences the ways in which drug use, drug users, and drug user health are understood and approached institutionally in contemporary Argentina. This research was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, and Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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