This book provides a richly detailed ethnography of Kenyan khat, tracing some of the many national and transnational trajectories this controversial stimulant takes from its centre of production in the Nyambene Hills to consumers in Kenya and throughout the world. The author, guided by his friend and khat connoisseur M'Mucheke, draws out the full economic, social and cultural significance of the substance, situating this significance within current debates on the legality of khat and the global rhetoric of the 'war on drugs'. The work explores how networks of Kenyan khat bring people of diverse backgrounds together in sometimes uneasy relationships, and highlights the vast cluster of meanings this remarkable commodity has accrued in its 'social life'.
Neil C.M. Carrier, Ph.D. (2003) in Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, is a research fellow in African Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford. He has published a number of articles drawing on his research on khat.
"The story of khat encapsulates the contradictions of the world in which we live, and Neil Carrier's lucid ethnography of Kenya's khat producers and consumers brings the social life of this ambiguous commodity into sharp focus. Writing for a broad audience across the social sciences, Carrier provides what is the best and most scholarly account of the topic yet published."
'Carrier succeeds admirably in (his) task and in the process demonstrates that social anthropology has the requisite imagination and skill to make sense of both the local and the global community'.
W. Arens (Choice, Jan. 2008)
Scholars of anthropology, ethnobotany, African Studies, drug studies, globalisation and all those interested in cultural aspects of khat and stimulants in general.