Dan Small is a medical anthropologist and Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He has a PhD in medical anthropology (University of British Columbia), an MPhil in circumpolar studies (University of Cambridge), an undergraduate degree in sociology and anthropology (Simon Fraser University, 1st class honours) and an undergraduate degree in psychology (Simon Fraser University, 1st class honours). He has helped develop, operate and evaluate a range of initiatives including social enterprises, healthcare, housing, employment and support services for marginalized populations including: harm reduction (e.g. syringe distribution, supervised injection, safer crack kits, managed alcohol, intravenous antibiotic treatment and a drug users resource centre), an inner-city bank, detox, dental clinic, grocery store for the low-income community, art gallery, recovery programs and supported housing. His role in developing, operating and protecting Insite, North America’s only supervised injection facility, took place in a busy socio-political intersection requiring cultural analysis of implicit and explicit values. His experience in medical regulation and medical student assessment has included involvement in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (2000-2014) and Medical Council of Canada (2007-2014). He teaches in both anthropology and sociology.
- The Lived Experience of Illness
- Medical and Healthcare Culture
- Peer to Peer Regulation and Assessment
- Therapeutic and Healing Narratives
- Hereditary Cancer
- Globalization, Capitalist Culture and Contemporary Social Problems: Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addiction
- Removing Healthcare and Housing Barriers
- Addiction, Harm Reduction and Marginalized Populations
- Law Enforcement and Harm Reduction
- Social Construction of Crime
- Sociology of Work
- Social Construction of Drugs and Drug Users
- Opioid Overdose Interventions
- Independent Filmmaking and Public Scholarship
Special Guest of the United States Government Under the International Visitor Leadership Program, 2005
University Graduate Fellowship, 2000-2001
S.S.H.R.C. Doctoral Fellowship, 1997-2000
Koerner Doctoral Fellowship (declined), 1997-1998
University Graduate Fellowship (declined), 1997-1999
U.B.C. Canadian Airlines Travel Prize, 1998
U.B.C. in 2010 Essay Competition Prize, 1998
Overseas Research Scholarship (declined), 1996
Queen Elizabeth II Centennial Scholarship, 1996
Simon Fraser University Open Scholarship, 1993
Simon Fraser University Open Scholarship, 1992
Simon Fraser University Open Scholarship, 1991
Small, D. (2022).”Auto-Ethnography and Naturalized Assumptions about Drugs and Society: The Teacher and the 4 Pedagogical Kindnesses” In Incluir Para Não Excluir! . I. Rizzini and P. Silveira, eds. Pp. 599-614. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editorra Redeunida.
Small, D. (2022). “The Transformation of Police Roles: Protectors of Public Health and Protectors of Public Safety” In Incluir Para Não Excluir! . I. Rizzini and P. Silveira, eds. Pp. 115-160. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editorra Redeunida.
Small, D. (2019). “Cultural Kidnapping: State Abductrion of Children from First Nations in Canada.” Pp. 441-68 in Extermination of the Excluded, edited by Neyla Mendes, Emerson Merhy, and Paulo Silveira. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora Redeunida
Small. D. (2019). “Structural violence and Canada’s overdose catastrophe: time for a Royal Commission.” in CMAJ Blogs. Canada: Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Alexander, B., & Small, D. (2019). “Breastfeeding, Drug Use and Compulsory Adoption.” Pp. 303-10 in Extermination of the Excluded, edited by Neyla Mendes, Emerson Merhy, and Paulo Silveira. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora Redeunida.
Bolton, S., Hanuse, B., Small, D., Turone, D., & Zwaryck, S. (2019). “From Bean to Bar: Cultural Esteem and Healing Through Chocolate.”Practicing Anthropology 41(2):40-46.
Small, D. (2018). “Creating Zones of Acceptance: Fitting Services to People rather than People to Services.” Pp. 429-68 in Criminalização ou Acolhimento?, edited by Bruce Alexander, Emerson Elias Murphy, and Paulo Silveira. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora Redeunida.
Small, D. (2017). Defining Moments and Healing Emplotment: I Have Cancer; It Doesn’t Have Me. Health Communication, 1-3.
Anderson. K., Beek, I. V., Drucker, E., Haemmig, R., Heimer, R., Small, D., Walley, A., & Wood, E. (2016). “Treating Addictions: Harm Reduction in Clinical Care and Prevention.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 13(1): 1-13.
Small, D. (2016). “Cultural Alchemy and Supervised Injection: Anthropological Activism and Application.” Practicing Anthropology, 39(2): 26-31.
Small, D. (2016). Harm Reduction and Cultural Shifts British Columbia Overdose Action Exchange (pp. 58-60). Vancouver: Office of the Provincial Health Officer of BC, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Coroners Service.
Small, D. (2016). Obituary: Ian Whitaker (1928-2016). Polar Record.
Small, D. (2012). “Canada’s highest court unchains injection drug users; implications for harm reduction as standard of healthcare.” Harm Reduction Journal, 9(34): 1-11.
Small, D. (2012). “Visual AIDS: Standard of Caring.” CATIE: Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information, 1-2.
Small, D. (2011). “An anthropological examination of an exotic tribe: The Naicisyhp.” BC Medical Journal, 53(1): 1.
Glickman, A., Rigter, G., Small, D., & Walter, T. (2010). “The Washington Needle Depot: fitting healthcare to injection drug users rather than injection drug users to healthcare: moving from a syringe exchange to syringe distribution model.” Harm Reduction Journal, 7(1): 1-12.
Small, D. (2010). “An appeal to humanity: legal victory in favour of North America’s only supervised injection facility.” Harm Reduction Journal, 7(23): 1-3.
Small, D. (2009). “Foundation skills assessment and expectancies: Pygmalion returns?” Teacher: Newsmagazine of the BC Teachers’ Federation, 2(4): 1-3.
Small, D. (2009). “Love as harm reduction: fighting AIDS and stigma in Vietnam.” Harm Reduction Journal, 6(34): 1-5.
Drucker, E., & Small, D. (2008). “Return to Galileo? The Inquisition of the International Narcotic Control Board.” Harm Reduction Journal, 5(16): 1-6.
Small, D. (2008). “Amazing grace: Vancouver’s supervised injection facility granted six-month lease on life.” Harm Reduction Journal, 5(3): 1-6.
Small, D. (2008). “Fighting addiction’s death row: British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield shows a measure of legal courage.” Harm Reduction Journal, 5(31): 1-16.
Drucker, E., & Small, D. (2007). “Closed to reason: time for accountability for the International Narcotic Control Board.” Harm Reduction Journal, 4(13): 1-8.
Small, D. (2007). “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread: Playing God with Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Facility in the political borderland.” International Journal of Drug Policy, 18: 18-26.
Drucker, E., & Small, D. (2006). “Policy makers ignoring science and scientists ignoring policy: the medical ethical challenges of heroin treatment.” Harm Reduction Journal, 3(16): 1-14.
Palepu, A., Small, D., & Tyndal, M. W. (2006). “The establishment of North America’s first state sanctioned supervised injection facility: a case study in culture change.” International Journal of Drug Policy, 1-10.
Small, D. (2006). “Patient, prisoner or person?” Harm Reduction Journal, 3(23): 1-2.
Gurstein, P., & Small, D. (2005). “From Housing to Home: Reflexive Management for those Deemed Hard to House.” Housing Studies, 20(5): 717-735.
Small, D. (2005). “Looking Into the Cultural Mirror: Addiction, secret lives and lost personhood.” Visions: BC’s Mental Health and Addiciton Journal, 2(5): 29-30.
Small, D. (2005). “Two cultures passing in the night.” International Journal of Drug Policy, 16: 221-222.
Small, D. (2004). “Mental Illness, Addiciton and the Supervised Injection Facility: New Narratives on the Downtown Eastside.” Visions: BC’s Mental Health and Addictions Journal, 2(1): 37-39.
Kerr, T., Palepu, A., Small, D., Tyndall, M. W., & Wood, E., (2003). “Potential Use of Safer Injecting Facilities Among Injection Drug Users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, 169(8): 1-5.
SOCIOLOGY 470-201: Current Issues in Crime, Society and the Law
This seminar course aims to create an encouraging venue for students to share their sociological ideas and interpretations about the ways that crime and deviance are socially constructed and vary across time and space. This course holds, as its primary ambition, an intent to collaboratively examine the moral borderland of contemporary social problems pertaining to crime, society and the law in order to uncover and make explicit the powerful socio-values and narratives that drive policy and popular understanding. The assumption, then, is that in order to effectively understand and address social problems relating to crime, society and the law, we must first confront their socio-cultural core. Building on this assumption, an attempt will be made to collaboratively engage in a kind of socio-cultural accounting of the narratives that drive public policy, societal interventions and approaches to crime. It is hoped that students will become proficient in analyzing and discussing key components of sociocultural narratives that underscore societal policies and understandings of crime. From beginning to end, students will engage in the mutual exchange of ideas as part of a scholarly discussion.
SOCIOLOGY 302-102: ETHNIC AND RACIAL INEQUALITY
This course begins with a sociological assertion: race is an illogical and nonsensical concept that has been constructed in order to perpetuate privilege and racialized social relations. It deploys the methods and theoretical tools of sociology to explore a range of important questions: to what extent is Canada racist, what racisms have existed and continue to exist in Canada, are their sociocultural blind spots that obscure ethnic and racial inequality? The field of sociology is called upon to examine a range of examples of social exclusion through immigration, migrant work and precarious employment as well inequality experienced by First Nations, African Canadians, and Chinese Canadians. The course’s first goal is to place ethnic and social inequality within the sociocultural, historical, structural and economic circumstances within which it is created and legitimated. The second goal is to present a compelling case for the importance of sociology’s methods, data and analysis in understanding and responding to ethnic and racial inequality.
SOCIOLOGY 250: Crime and Society
This course examines crime and society. It begins with a question: what, exactly, is crime? A diverse range of human activity could be considered criminal such as that relating to persons, the state, environment, property, human rights, hatred, internet and financial systems. However, crime is not an immutable or naturalized phenomenon, but is subject to the vagaries of society. A significant assumption, and assertion, within this course is that notions of crime and deviance are socially constructed and vary across time and jurisdiction. Without sociology, it will be argued, there is no way to adequately moor our understanding of crime and society. This course attempts to convince students that the examination of sociological currents is not only useful, but necessary, if we are to adequately investigate, understand and address crime and society.
SOCIOLOGY 352A: Sociology of Work
This course examines work as an ever-changing social construction that has been fabricated into a commodity. The first aim of this course is to challenge pre-conceived, naturalized, notions of work. Like many sociology courses, it begins with a series of questions: what, exactly, is work? Is anything that expends human energy such as exercise, making a breakfast, brewing an espresso, riding a bicycle, reading a novel or gardening work? Does work only pertain to paid employment? What about illegal, volunteer or unpaid work, forced labour by prisoners or those activities that take place in the home sphere by one partner while another engages in the paid workforce? Why are some workers or areas of work more socially or economically valued than others? Why are some individuals unable to obtain work or forced into unacceptable or precarious forms of employment? The course’s second goal is to present a compelling case for the importance of sociology’s methods, analysis and theory in answering questions about work.
Over the past twenty years, the instructor has maintained an applied focus in the development of a range of low, medium and high threshold work opportunities and social enterprises for individuals facing multiple barriers to their psychosocial tenure (e.g. poverty, HIV/AIDS, HCV, illicit drug use, homelessness, survival sex trade involvement, financial exclusion, unemployment, mental illness and conflict with the law). The instructor will draw on these employment initiatives, when possible, as case studies for sociological analysis in order to explore the relationship between work and personhood or membership in the human family. Students will discover that work, while typically economic in nature is also tied to our search for meaning, our identity and our self in society.
GLOBAL PANDEMICS (SOCI 290): Sociological Examination of Pandemics: Social Inequality, Social Interaction and Social Institutions
This course explores the sociological dimensions of global pandemics with particular focus on Covid-19. Grounded in a sociological orientation, the course begins with the observation that infectious disease is not randomly distributed. In fact, social conditions manifest themselves synergistically alongside disease, elevating morbidity, mortality and inequality for some groups more than others. These structural arrangements, while often taken for granted, left as implicit or hidden, will be the central focus for students over the term as they learn to deploy a sociological framework to peel back the veneer of social construction wherever possible to uncover the hard contours of intersecting inequity that are the lived reality of pandemics.
DRUGS AND SOCIETY (SOCI-387): Sociological Examination of Drugs, Societal Responses and Moral Order: Drugs, Demons and Damnatio.
This course examines the sociological dimensions of the causes, consequences, regulation, and treatment of substance use from Canadian and international perspectives. It begins with a question; what, exactly, are drugs? In some ways, this is like asking about the difference between a weed and a flower. Such questions cannot be answered meaningfully without first exploring the social meanings that we have ascribed to the objects we observe. An adequate investigation of drugs, then, must include socio-historical context at its foundation. This course employs sociology to examine drugs and drug related issues. It employs both theoretical and applied approaches to examining implicit or explicit sociocultural values, narratives and societal approaches to drugs. This course explores theoretical, moral, legal, scientific, medical and pharmaceutical narratives about drugs within an historical and sociological context.Sociocultural values form the basis of our moral understanding of drugs. Sociocultural values, in turn, drive powerful societal narratives that shape personal, professional and public understandings of and practice with respect to drugs. However, the socio-cultural values associated with drugs that shape narratives, orientations and paradigms are often left as implicit, neglected or hidden. This course aims to utilize sociology in order to see past common sense, uncover sociocultural values and their associated narrative frameworks and, in so doing, set aside the obvious and notions about drugs that are replete with unexplored truths that are taken for granted.
Anthropology 227: Culture, Health and Illness (Medical Anthropology)
This course surveys some of the fields of medical anthropology that can be used to enrich our understanding of illness, healing and clinical encounters. Ultimately, students will also be invited to explore the idea that medicine is not only influenced by culture, it is, in and of itself, a cultural process. From beginning to end, this course will contemplate an important question for medical anthropology and for everyday people experiencing illness: can patients and clinicians stand closer together as they face inevitable illness and mortality? The course will examine narratives and experiences of patients, families and clinicians in an attempt to convince the student that the answer to this question is yes, definitely yes.
Anthropology 202A: Contemporary Social Problems: Anthropological Examination of Addiction, Mental Illness and Homelessness
This course examines some of the most significant of contemporary social problems with special emphasis on addiction, mental illness, and homelessness from the point of view of anthropology. It focuses on addiction as a case study for a socio-cultural approach to understanding social problems and includes both applied and ethnographic materials relating to implicit or explicit values, narratives and psychosocial interventions. The theoretical framework for the course is rooted in applied, critical and public anthropology that relies on a socio-cultural analysis and includes an exploration of the potential influence of globalization and capitalist narratives on social problems.
Anthropology 202B: Contemporary Social Problems: Anthropological Examination of Drugs, Societal Responses and Moral Order: Drugs, Demons and Damnation
This course employs anthropology, with its socio-cultural and qualitative approach; to examine drugs and drug related issues. It includes theoretical, applied and ethnographic materials relating to implicit or explicit values, narratives and societal approaches to answer the question: what, exactly, are drugs? Students will learn that in some ways, this is like asking about the difference between a weed and a flower. These questions cannot be answered meaningfully without first exploring the meanings that we have ascribed to the objects we observe. The course will explore moral, legal, scientific, medical and pharmaceutical narratives about drugs within an historical and cultural context.
FUTURE GLOBAL LEADERS: Crime and Society: Contemporary Topics
This course is part of the UBC Future Global Leaders pre-university program. It is dedicated to students aged 15 to 18 years of age. The course investigates a range of contemporary topics, including the relationship between public order and violent crime, innovations in drug enforcement, forensic psychiatry, restorative justice, wrongful conviction, geographic profiling in hunting serial criminals, structural violence, advocacy and the law. The class examines crime from the point of view of anthropology and sociology and applies social science methods to better understand and address crime. This course is intended for students interested in scholarly or vocational work in criminology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, law, enforcement, mental health, forensic psychiatry or public policy. It is meant to be engaging and interesting. The instructor’s goal is to work hard to convince students that sociology and anthropology are essential for adequately understanding and addressing crime in society.