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November 28 lecture to focus on geography and the opioid epidemic

ISSUED: 9 November 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Department of Sociology and Geography is sponsoring a lecture by Mat Keel, adjunct instructor of geography, titled “From Life to Death; Flower to Needle; Afghanistan to West Virginia: Contemporary Historical/Cultural Geographies of Poppies and the Opioid Epidemic” on Wednesday, November 28, at noon in the White Hall’s Jefferson Room 104. The event, which is part of Keel’s World Cultural Geography class, is free and open to the public.

Keel’s ongoing Ph.D. research focuses on the historical and contemporary cultural geographies of psychoactive plants. His lecture will explore what he calls the “weird” commodity chain that takes shape around poppies that began mostly during the 19th century and has continued to the opioid epidemic that’s taking place today.

“Even though many of the opiate medications used today such as fentanyl are synthetic, they remain connected to and part of this larger historical process,” Keel said. “Looking at this whole process as a geographic question, bringing tools and frameworks from contemporary human geography, suggests unique and important dimensions to understanding the opioid epidemic.”

For more information, contact Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic, chair of the Department of Sociology and Geography, at

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