CFP: Critical Anthropological Perspectives on Addiction Treatment Buzzwords (AAA 2019)

* Call for Papers *
AAA 2019 Annual Meeting
Vancouver, BC, CAN
November 20-24, 2019

Recovering, Rehabilitated, Healthy: Critical Anthropological Perspectives on Addiction Treatment Buzzwords

Aleksandra Bartoszko (VID Specialized University)
Shana Harris (University of Central Florida)

Discussant: TBD

Over the last decade, anthropologists have contributed numerous critical insights to the study of drug and alcohol use.  We have questioned drug and user criminalization, highlighted widespread stigmatization, scrutinized treatment management, and challenged the representation of addiction as a chronic disease.  Our critical work also includes interrogating terms that are “native” to the drug and alcohol field, such as “addiction,” “health,” “recovery,” and “rehabilitation.”  Anthropologists and other scholars have shown the constructed and contingent character of these buzzwords by examining their historical, geographic, moral, and ethical foundations.  Curiously, however, we continue to use these terms in our work, often reproducing the imaginaries we seek to critically address in the first place.  In many studies, anthropologists enmesh the empirical experiences that they observe in the field with the analytical categories they use to understand them.  As a result, what anthropologists and the people we study mean by such terms as addiction, health, recovery, and rehabilitation are often unclear or unquestioned.

This panel explores these issues by critically examining the roles these buzzwords play in anthropological investigations of drug and alcohol use.  In our analyses, how do we use these terms and the concepts they support? How do we contend with their specific histories and sociocultural undertones?  Do we, as anthropologists, accept or resist the related discourses, ideologies, and assertions that circulate within the drug and alcohol field?

We invite ethnographic theoretical papers that scrutinize these terms and the concepts they support; explore their meanings to individuals, institutions, or policies; analyze how they are used, reproduced, or resisted; and discuss their potential for future anthropological inquiry. We are particularly interested in papers that examine how empirical concepts and accounts monopolize or dominate our analytical thinking without us noticing.  Given the large production of scientific research on drugs and alcohol by American scholars, we particularly invite discussion on how the local redefinitions of the treatment concepts play out in other geographical locations in the global north and south.

Please submit an abstract (250 words max.) via email to the panel organizers at and by MONDAY, MARCH 25, for full consideration. Presenters will be notified of selection by April 1.