Travis Linnemann, Meth Wars: Police, Media, Power.

AuthorAyres, Tammy

Travis Linnemann, Meth Wars: Police, Media, Power (New York University Press, 2016)

Fear, Insecurity, and the Economy of Deception

ON THE SURFACE, METH WARS: POLICE, MEDIA, POWERIS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY examination of methamphetamine (meth) in the United States. On closer examination, however, it is much more than this. Drawing on psychoanalysis, cultural criminology, and contemporary philosophy, Travis Linnemann provides a nuanced overview of contemporary society and the political economic context of late capitalism. He examines its cultural forces, inherent inequalities, and insecurities, as well as the failing war on drugs, through the lens of methamphetamine. Linnemann depicts how meth and the subsequent "methamphetamine imaginary" feed into the wider war on drugs--a war fought on the terrain of class relations and one that disavows the wider political economy. Using examples taken from case studies, interviews, and ethnographic research, alongside an analysis of popular culture (e.g., pictures in the media), Linnemann demonstrates how representation has overtaken reality, particularly in relation to illicit drugs and their users. Here, the methamphetamine imaginary exemplifies how "meth mediates the social world" (5). It depicts how the caricatures surrounding meth are created, perpetuated, and legitimized by the state, illustrating how "actors of all kinds engage in its cultural production to do political work and effectively govern through meth, which operates as a conduit of police and state power" (87). The methamphetamine imaginary, as Linnemann argues, is used to justify draconian law enforcement, excessive police powers, and disproportionate controls that provoke insecurities along the lines of race, class, and gender, despite being one of the least popular street drugs in a country rife with legitimate amphetamine-based medications such as Adderall and Ritalin. Throughout the book, Linnemann reveals how the reciprocity of the methamphetamine imaginary and governing through meth "swirls from inside to the outside and back again, folding the foreign and domestic, the international and the everyday, into one another" (114) via a process of loops and spirals--a nod to the cultural criminology of Ferrell et al. (2015). Linnemann describes how meth--and drugs, more generally--has been fetishized, while the reality has been disavowed to create a hyper-reality and "simulacrum" of drugs and their use (Baudrillard 1994). Meth is used as a...

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