Righteous Dopefiend


For his 1995 book, “In Search of Respect,” Philippe Bourgois, the Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology and Family and Community Medicine at Penn, moved into a house in a drug-infested neighborhood in East Harlem to understand what he calls the “extraordinarily appealing and dynamic economy that’s an economy of destruction through dealing.”


For his most recent book, “Righteous Dopefiend,” Bourgois took to the streets of San Francisco to explore the lives of the users at the heart of “Respect.”


Bourgois, also a consulting scholar at the Penn Museum, and photographer/ethnographer Jeff Schonberg spent more than a decade among a community of heroin and crack addicts on the streets of San Francisco. Their extensive research formed the basis for their new book, “Righteous Dopefiend,” and also new exhibits at the Penn Museum and Slought Foundation.

“Righteous Dopefiend: Homelessness, Addiction, and Poverty in Urban America, opens Dec. 5 at the Penn Museum. More than 40 black-and-white photographs are interwoven with edited transcriptions of tape-recorded conversations, field notes, and critical analysis to explore the intimate experience of homelessness and addiction.

On Dec. 3, the Slought Foundation is exhibiting “Righteous Dopefiend: An Anthropological Installation on Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America,” a multimedia installation with related programming.


The Penn Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The exhibit runs through May 2010. For more information, call 215-898-4000 or visit www.penn.museum. Admission is $10 for adults; $7 for senior citizens (65 and above); $6 for children ages 6 to 17 and full-time students with ID; free for Museum members, PennCard holders and children 5 or younger.


The Slought Foundation is open Thursday through Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. The exhibit runs through Dec. 31. For more information, call 215-701-4627 or visit www.slought.org.


Originally published on December 3, 2009