Contemporary Substance Use in Guyana: The Prison Context

Tammy Ayres, Queenela Cameron, Kristy Warren, Dylan Kerrigan

Abstract


Substance use in contemporary Guyana cannot be dismantled from the historical introduction and control of substances across the British Empire, and this is true in the community as it is in prison. In a form of transhistorical repetition, some of the substances being used have changed since colonial times, but many have also stayed the same, as have the reasons for their use. This paper follows on from ‘the History of Substance Use and Control in British Guiana’ (Moss and Toner, 2020) and explores semi-structured prisoner interviews among a group of male prisoners, which shows that substance use in prison – as in the community - is often a coping mechanism, as well as a way to pass time, escape and alleviate the pains of imprisonment. In this sense substance use is an adaptive strategy to the micro level experiences of transhistorical processes, such as social control, the development of class and ethnic politics, and were central to the nexus of exploitative social and labour relationships on colonial plantations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.202143766

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