AAA 2019 CfP: Whiteness and Its Fractures in the Opioid "Crisis"

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

*Whiteness and Its Fractures in the Opioid "Crisis"*

*Organizers *
Allison Schlosser (Case Western Reserve University)
Emily Metzner (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

*Discussant Helena Hansen (New York University)*

*Abstract*Addiction and its treatment are now central concerns in the U.S.
and increasingly worldwide due to the recent stark rise in opioid use and
overdose death. Attention to opioid addiction, treatment, and overdose
prevention has intensified with the emergence of new groups of relatively
socially privileged drug users, with particular attention to White
middle-class users in suburban communities. In the U.S., analysts have
drawn on narratives of opioid addiction as a symptom of social suffering
rooted in Post-Industrial economic dislocation among poor and working class
Whites to frame the current political climate. Shifts in popular news,
social media, and viral video have intensified the circulation of images
and discourses on opioid use. The spectacles of suburban White prom queens
in recovery, parents overdosing in cars with children present, and “mobile
morgues” used to manage the overwhelming number of dead bodies rapidly
circulate online. This social, political, and economic context has
intensified the moral panic of what is now commonly referred to as the
“opioid crisis,” and has troubled fundamental beliefs about “addiction” and
“addicts,” but also about whiteness.

Anthropologists have long understood race as culturally constructed. In the
last two decades, whiteness studies has emerged as a theoretical and
methodological approach to examine whiteness as a discursively constructed
social category and psycho-social experience performed in local historical,
cultural, political-economic, and relational contexts. As opioid use and
related death among broader socioeconomic swaths has intensified moral
concern, scholars have analyzed the shifting meanings and consequences of
whiteness in relation to the opioid “crisis” (cf. Hansen, 2017; Hansen &
Skinner, 2012; Netherland & Hansen, 2016; Mendoza, et al., 2018). Yet, as
these scholars emphasize, whiteness is not a monolithic social category but
intersects with ethnicity, gender, and class, among other social
identities. Additionally, whiteness takes shape in particular local
contexts. These complexities render whiteness “fractured” (Levine-Rasky,
2016): rife with internal contradictions further strained by the racialized
moral panic of the opioid “crisis.”

Brodkin (2001) calls for increased attention to the “variations,
ambivalences, and contradictions within whiteness and alternatives to it”
(p. 149). The papers in the panel respond to this challenge, leveraging
ethnography to trace the fractures in whiteness in diverse local contexts.
Panelists examine shifting meanings of whiteness in relation to the rise of
opioid use among Whites in particular cultural, geographic, and
institutional contexts. We examine strategies that uphold and reproduce
White privilege in the criminal justice system, healthcare, social
services, and recovery communities. We draw particular attention to how
whiteness emerges in local contexts of daily life: how it is performed,
internalized, incorporated with intersecting social identities, contested,
and transgressed. In doing so, we aim to contribute nuanced understandings
of whiteness as ineluctably entwined with local contexts, intersecting
social identities, intimate relationships, and the stakes of survival in
everyday life. We propose that the current “opioid crisis” thus presents a
unique opportunity to throw whiteness into “crisis.” By rendering whiteness
and its fractures visible, we aim to interrupt it, and to imagine more just

*Interested participants are invited to submit a proposed title and
250-word abstract to Allison Schlosser ( <>)
and Emily Metzner ( <>) by
March 11. Decisions on panel inclusion will be made by March 18. *


*References Cited*

Brodkin, K. (2001). Comments on “Discourses of Whiteness.” Journal of
Linguistic Anthropology, 11(1), 147-150.

Hansen, H. (2017). Assisted technologies of social reproduction:
Pharmaceutical prosthesis for gender, race, and class in the White opioid
“crisis.” Contemporary Drug Problems, 44(4), 321-338.

Hansen, H. & Skinner, M. (2012). From white bullet to black markets and
greened medicine: The neuroeconomics and neuroracial politics of opioid
pharmaceuticals. Annals of Anthropological Practice 36(1), 167-182.

Levine-Rasky (2016). Whiteness fractured. New York: Routledge.

Mendoza, S., Rivera, A., & Hansen, H. (2018). Re-racialization of addiction
and the re-distribution of blame in the white opioid epidemic. Medical
Anthropology Quarterly, 00(0), 1-21.

Netherland, J. & Hansen, H. (2016). The war on drugs that wasn’t: Wasted
whiteness, ‘dirty doctors,’ and race in media coverage of prescription
opioid misuse. Culture, Medicine, & Psychiatry 40, 664-686.

AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting, Nov. 20-24 2019, Vancouver


Call for Papers: Beyond the Endgame: Living with HIV in “Post-Crisis” Times

How are HIV-positive people mediating notions of difference, self, and health through powerful ‘end of crisis’ narratives circulated by global health organizations like UNAIDS, alongside stagnant or decreasing political and financial support for people living with HIV (Moyer 2015)? In numerous locations, despite the lack of necessary supports, HIV-positive individuals are being increasingly encouraged to pursue healthier and more fulfilling lives through a set of moral, physical, and social practices, called “positive living,” since the advent of antiretroviral therapies (Benton, Sangaramoorthy and Kalofonos 2017). How, Benton et al ask, are conceptions of time embedded in public health programs directed at HIV-positive people mediated and how does ‘positive living’ infer particular notions of difference, health, and the self ? How are HIV-positive individuals and groups engaging with local, national and global prevention and treatment strategies claiming ‘the end of HIV’ is within reach? This panel seeks ethnographically oriented examinations of HIV-positive individuals and communities in different locations and their diverse navigations of ‘positive living’ amidst ‘end of crisis’ temporal narratives emanating from national and global health authorities.

Papers may address the following questions and/or propose additional thematic foci related to these questions:

· Have improvements in overall health for many (but by no means all) HIV+ populations resulted in greater social (re)integration and acceptance? Do they continue to be viewed as risky medicalized subjects requiring surveillance and management by government health and welfare services, or are they viewed as fading anachronisms, representative of a past era of fear, illness and death?

· How do variously positioned HIV+ people and their supporters respond to the shift from ‘death sentence’ to ‘near normal life span’ narratives as ‘end of crisis’ campaigns circulate on national and global stages?

· How do differentially located HIV+ communities view new biomedical ‘discoveries’ about HIV treatment, prevention and education, such as the “undetectable=untransmittable” or “PREP” campaigns which often accompany ‘end of crisis’ narratives?

· How are local support services and programs for HIV+ populations being (re)shaped in relation to the possibility of long term living with HIV, where, in many cases, there is stagnating or decreasing funding for these services/programs?

· What are the ethical and moral contours of ‘positive living’ in ‘post-crisis’ times and how are they being (re)shaped in relation to changing national and global health initiatives?

· How do structural forms of inequality such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability, age and/or socio-economic status intersect with “end of AIDS” narratives and/or experiences of living with HIV in ‘post-crisis’ times?

Please submit abstracts to David A.B. Murray, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, NO LATER THAN WEDNESDAY MARCH 27, 2019


Benton, Adia, Thurka Sangaramoorthy, and Ippolytos Kalofonos. 2017. Temporality and Positive Living in the Age of HIV/AIDS: A Multi-sited Ethnography. Current Anthropology. 58(4):454-476.

Moyer, Ellen. 2015. The Anthropology of Life After AIDS: Epistemological Continuities in the Age of Antiretroviral Treatment. Annual Review of Anthropology. 44:259–75


Seeking participants in panel on the challenges posed by historical markers in changing times.
Ideally the panel will focus on celebrations of colonialists, military explorers, and other symbols of settler colonialism. First Nations efforts to change markers, creative ways to engage in "counter-monumentality," non-material projects like novels, books or performances; First Nations/white settler collaborations and their challenges; success stories and failures would be important contributions. Updating museum collections may also be relevant.

My own work is on markers to the Sullivan campaign of 1779, one that resulted in the destruction of over 40 Haudenosaunee settlements. These markers are in Pennsylvania and New York and are being reinstalled every year. I am planning to report on a successful collaboration between Onondaga and white settler organizations, while highlighting the many difficulties they faced.

Please contact me via email. En francais est possible aussi.
Thank you/ Merci,
Andrea Lynn Smith



Are you looking for panelists? Do you want some advice as to where to stay or places to go while at the CASCA Conference? If yes, please feel free to submit a short blurb to We will post all pertinent information to this section to facilitate communication between members as they prepare for the upcoming conference.


Contact Info

Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
c/o Karli Whitmore
125 rue Jean de la Londe, #301
Baie d'Urfe (Québec) H9X 3T8