Imogen Bevan is a research student in medical anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Imogen wrote her Master 1 thesis, a comparative study between smoking and ‘vaping’ (e-cigarette use) in Central Eastern France, within the Chemical Youth programme. Imogen is particularly interested in exploring what goes on inside bodies, and how substances are incorporated through social practices.
Her current work in Scotland investigates the way people exchange, think about, eat, and digest sugar. She examines how this slippery substance is valued differently depending on where it is, who is eating it, and in what context. Her scholarly interests include global health, the boundaries between food, drugs and medicine, sensory anthropology, and visual research methods.
Why do people keep smoking cigarettes when they are fully aware of the dangers? What do people actually get out of smoking? Do e-cigarettes replicate smoking sensations, or do they do something completely different?
Smoking is broadly considered a universal practice, and researchers often choose for object “the smoker”: a victim of physiological addictive substances, peer pressure, stress, or genetic predispositions. I argue that the newfound popularity of e-cigarettes – objects that are conceived to be tinkered with and adapted to personal use – show that smoking is a highly versatile local practice. My work investigates everyday pleasure, and voluntarily shifts the focus from “the smoker” to smoking (and vaping) as sensory social practices.