Author(s): Stevenson M, Fitzgerald J, Banwell C
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Abstract In this paper we present a review of practices surrounding the consumption of khat (Catha edulis) within recent migrant communities in Melbourne from East Africa. Cultures in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsular have used khat as a stimulant since the seventh century and the practice of coming together to chew the leaves of the khat plant has acquired unique cultural importance. Based on focus-group interviews the research examines transformations taking place in the meaning of khat for East African communities within their experiences of displacement and considers how the arrival of khat might be managed in the Australian context. Emphasis is given to indigenous models and the cultural context of practices surrounding khat. This anthropology of khat use in Melbourne summarizes issues such as who chews it, traditional settings for khat gatherings, culturally defined effects of the leaf, health effects, beliefs and attitudes, levels of use, gendered attitudes and questions of dependence. These issues raise questions regarding the reception of indigenous substance use within a state that claims to be multicultural.
This article was published in Drug Alcohol Rev
and referenced in Family Medicine & Medical Science Research