Anthropologists now routinely use global factors to describe and explain meanings and practices uncovered in specific ethnographic sites. In our efforts to explain illicit drug epidemics, we participate in this shift, since changes in a system of illicit drug production and distribution are always a part of the story. In the case study presented here--the increasing use of ecstasy in the late 1990s--we deal with two new problems. First, global and diffuse use of a drug that typically does not bring about clinical dependence makes the selection of a specific ethnographic site less relevant than it has been in past cases. Second, the system for production and delivery lacks the clear organization of such systems in past cases of heroin and cocaine. We conclude with a call, as have many others, for more development of an old anthropological idea, a nonsite-specific global anthropology, one that may also enable more effective participation in many kinds of policy discourse.

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