CFP: Questioning Addiction and Contextualizing Treatment (AAA 2018)

AAA 2018 Panel Call for Papers

Panel Title: Questioning Addiction and Contextualizing Treatment

Organizers: Paul Christensen (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Aleksandra Bartoszko (Oslo Metropolitan University)

Discussant: China Scherz (University of Virginia)

Panel abstract: Addiction, recovery, and treatment are contested cultural categories influenced by widespread medical dictates, political constraints, and local moral economies. These include popular, biomedical, and religious conceptions of vice and morality, appropriate behavior, and ways of living. In these papers, we examine how addiction and treatment concepts are adapted or resisted in ethnographic contexts from Japan and The United States to Norway and México. We scrutinize treatment as a cultural and social institution that represents the morally preferred solution to drug use and addiction. We consider how regimens for addiction recovery programs often framed as comprehensive and unerring if worked with the proper commitment, burden individuals who struggle to follow them in diverse contexts. These programs often maintain, deepen, and/or eradicate realities that they purport to address (such as social inequalities, stigma, or overdose) by instead deflecting criticism of their functioning onto the individuals who struggle to realize institutionally dictated criteria of success and recovery.

Simultaneously we ask: Can we imagine any other forms of inclusion for people with addiction other than making them patients/ providing them treatment? Focusing on individuals’ engagements with institutional standards and principles, as well as institutional responses to failures, we ask what is at stake for the actors involved in private and state treatment and rehabilitation industries. This panel explores the struggles of the global and local addiction treatment programs in maintaining authority or achieving their goals sometimes to the detriment of the local contexts or the lived experiences of the individuals involved. We highlight the voices and subjectivities of individuals who have been labeled as addicts or patients; we explore how they navigate their daily existence adapting, refusing, or changing these, and other, categories. Our panel underlines the ambitions and significance of ethnographic approach to improve both the ways of global and local management of addiction.

We invite interested panelists to submit an abstract (250 words max) and current affiliation to Aleksandra Bartoszko ( and Paul Christensen ( by April 1, 2018. Presenters will be notified of selection by April 4, 2018.