Chris Duvall


I am a human-environment geographer who studies how people interact with plants.  Most of my work centers on Africa and Africans.  I’ve studied plants that are rare and obscure (notably Gilletiodendron glandulosum), others that are regionally iconic (like the African baobab, Adansonia digitata), and one that is ubiquitous and renowned (Cannabis sativa).  I’ve looked at people and plants from perspectives that include history, ecology, cultural studies, and biogeography.

Professor and Chair

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

University of New Mexico

Bandelier Hall West, Rm. 220

Albuquerque, NM 87131

E-mail: duvall at unm dot edu

My c.v. is here. My professional networking sites are: ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and

Right: Graffiti in Porto, Portugal (2014). Liamba is a name used for the plant drug in Angola, Brazil, and Portugal.

Below: Marijuana advocacy ad in a U.S. newspaper (1972).

Right: Smoking hashish (Turkmenistan, 1872).

Above: Smoking dagga (Swaziland, about 1890).

Left: An idealized portrayal of hemp fieldwork in France (about 1900).

Below left: Marijuana personified in a drug-prevention booklet for children, Argentina (about 1988).

Below right, top: Cannabis field for rope production in Chile (about 1930).

Below right, bottom: Retting hemp in Serbia (about 1903).

Images (c) Chris Duvall, 2019

(except the book covers, and these images: ‘Stop Smoking’, Dioscorides, and ‘La Verdadera...’.

News about The African Roots of Marijuana:

  1. New Books Network

  2. The Cannabis Reporter

  3. The Page 99 Test

  4. Campaign for the American Reader

Publisher’s website (for 30% off, use the coupon code E19DVALL)

My books:

In recent years, my research has focused on the history of cannabis, which is the plant source of marijuana and hashish, as well as hempseeds and hemp fiber.

My most recent book, The African Roots of Marijuana, is now available from Duke University Press.  This book is the first to give an Africa-centered history of cannabis.  Africa has been almost entirely ignored in histories of cannabis, even though the dominant form of cannabis use—as a smoked drug—traces to Africa, as does the word ‘marijuana’.  The plant traveled throughout the Atlantic World as a component of exploitative labor regimes, including chattel slavery.  Better understanding of the plant drug’s African past will improve how people manage it as a crop, as a medicinal and recreational substance, and as an object of legal control.

My first book, with the un-catchy title Cannabis, was published in February 2015.  This book is a world historical geography of the plant genus, and part of the Botanical Series from Reaktion Books. 

In my research about cannabis, I’ve found that visual cultures provide rich information about the plant’s past and present roles in societies around the world.  There are 100 illustrations in my book Cannabis, 40 in The African Roots of Marijuana, and 13 more in my encyclopedia article about cannabis and tobacco in Africa.  Enjoy the images below!

Above: Cannabis, as portrayed in De Materia Medica, by Dioscorides (copy from about 500 CE).