Research Interests:

  • 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


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



Selected Publications:


Drucker, E., K. Anderson, R. Haemmig, R. Heimer, D. Small, A. Walley, E. Wood and I. v. Beek (2016). “Treating Addictions: Harm Reduction in Clinical Care and Prevention.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 13(1): 1-13.

Gurstein, P. and D. Small (2005). “From Housing to Home: Reflexive Management for those Deemed Hard to House.” Housing Studies 20(5): 717-735.

Kerr, T., E. Wood, D. Small, A. Palepu and M. W. Tyndall (2003). “Potential Use of Safer Injecting Facilities Among Injection Drug Users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 169(8): 1-5.

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.

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. (2006). “Patient, prisoner or person?” Harm Reduction Journal 3(23): 1-2.

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.

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.

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.

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. (2011). “An anthropological examination of an exotic tribe: The Naicisyhp.” BC Medical Journal 53(1): 1.

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. (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. (2017).  Defining Moments and Healing Emplotment: I Have Cancer; It Doesn’t Have Me. Health Communication: 1-3.

Small, Dan  2016b  Obituary: Ian Whitaker (1928-2016). Polar Record.

Small, D. and E. Drucker (2006). “Policy makers ignoring science and scientists ignoring policy: the medical ethical challenges of heroin treatment.” Harm Reduction Journal 3(16): 1-14.

Small, D. and E. Drucker (2007). “Closed to reason: time for accountability for the International Narcotic Control Board.” Harm Reduction Journal 4(13): 1-8.

Small, D. and E. Drucker (2008). “Return to Galileo? The Inquisition of the International Narcotic Control Board.” Harm Reduction Journal 5(16): 1-6.

Small, D., A. Glickman, G. Rigter and T. Walter (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., A. Palepu and M. W. Tyndal (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.


SOCI 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.

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.

Biographical Statement


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.