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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 on 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 concurrent 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 most commonly derived from the iboga plant native to West Central Africa. It is utilized for "addiction interruption," as a way to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opiates and other drugs while fostering introspection. Ibogaine is illegal in the United States, and clinics have been established in Mexico - where it is unregulated - to cater to a primarily U.S. 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 medications for opioid use disorder and 12-step programs. This research provides insight into the experience of receiving and providing drug treatment with ibogaine and illuminates the role of medical travel associated with this unique treatment. This research is supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Florida Education Fund, Brocher Foundation, and Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.

Her current collaborative research focuses on harm reduction in Florida. As part of the University of Central Florida's Harm Reduction Research Initiative and Florida Harm Reduction Research Collaborative, Shana works with scholars from multiple fields, including anthropology, public health, and medicine to study the expansion, implementation, and utilization of syringe services programs, overdose prevention interventions, and other harm reduction services 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 socially, politically, and 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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