Marijuana, guns, crocodiles and submarines: Economies of desire in the Purari Delta

Joshua A. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Traded down the Purari River by male youth through a network of friends, kuku dipi, as marijuana is known in the Purari Delta, is consumed locally, and traded for guns it is rumoured that the American Mafia bring in submarines. The movement of kuku dipi is part of a constellation of informal trade that has emerged alongside the large-scale logging and oil projects in the Gulf Province. These networks involve the exchange of alcohol, pornography and radios by logging ship crews for live birds, crocodile skins and other local flora and fauna. Numerous sets of speculations have arisen about the seen and unseen transactions that these exchanges are felt to entail. Focusing on aspects of kuku dipi's use and movement in the Delta, I examine some of the explanations and anxieties around this illicit commodity. Doing so provides insight into kuku dipi's social impact and illuminates how the Purari's engagement in this trade is an attempt to transcend and cope with the economic and political disparities caused by the current resource extraction projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

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