Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores the ways in which opioids, boredom, temporality, and biopolitical forces intersect to constitute the situation of addiction in rural Appalachia, southwest Virginia. It argues that the temporal scales intrinsic to this situation can be conceptualized as an immanent field of sociopolitical, economic and moral relations that are constituted above all by precarity. Inseparably bound up within these precarious fields are complex constellations of self-care and economy that place these long-term addicts in a particular relation to each other and, simultaneously, the state. It explores the use of opioid analgesics as a form of self-care, one that allows them to negotiate the unbearable “present-ness” of their situation by displacing their subjectivities into alternative temporal states. In so doing, it interrogates the way that conflicting temporal scales fold into broader matrices of power, poverty, and governance, specifically exploring the ways in which the people most disadvantaged by this enfolding continue to navigate their way through the turbulence.