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Benjamin Y. Fong

Quick Fixes

Friday, October 13, 2023, 6:00pm

Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

Americans are stumbling through a world-historic drug binge. Opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, antidepressants, antipsychotics—across the board, consumption has shot up in the twenty-first century. At the same time, the United States is home to the largest prison system in the world, justified in part by a now zombified “war” on drugs. How did we get here?

Quick Fixes: Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge (Verso, 2023) blows away the pharmacological fog to take a sober look at how drugs have shaped American society. Though particularly acute in recent decades, the contradiction between America’s passionate love for and intense hatred of these substances has been one of its defining characteristics for over a century. Through nine chapters, each devoted to the modern history of a drug or class of drugs, Benjamin Y. Fong examines Americans’ fraught relationship with psychoactive substances. As society changes, it produces different forms of stress, isolation, and alienation. These changes, in turn, affect the development and spread of medications and narcotics among the populace.

By laying out the histories, functions, and experiences of our chemical comforts, the hope is to help answer that ever-perplexing question: what does it mean to be an American?

Here, Fong joins Cedric Johnson to discuss the book.


Presented by the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and 3CT

This event is free and open to the public; registration is recommended

Benjamin Y. Fong teaches at Arizona State University and is the author of Quick Fixes: Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge (Verso, 2023).

Cedric Johnson is Professor of Black Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle (Verso, 2023).