Deakin University
Browse

File(s) under permanent embargo

Refusing recovery, living a ‘wayward life’: A feminist analysis of women’s drug use

Version 2 2024-06-02, 23:27
Version 1 2023-08-25, 05:03
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-02, 23:27 authored by F Dennis, Kiran PienaarKiran Pienaar
Drawing on cultural historian Saidiya Hartman’s (2019) book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval, this essay reads one woman’s life with drugs and resistance to drug treatment as a feminist act of refusal, a ‘wayward life’ in Hartman’s terms. Wayward lives are those that refuse dominant forms of servitude and push open alternative ways of being. Although living in a different time and location to the young black women in Hartman’s book struggling to survive after emancipation in the United States, we see the woman (Kim) in our study in contemporary London, United Kingdom, employing similar acts of cramped resistance in a world that treats her as ‘pathological’ and ‘criminal’. We explore the ways in which Kim resists the law, the tropes of pathology that profess to know her, and the abstinence-based treatment systems that seek to change her. Importantly in following Hartman, we are not dismissing her struggles or romanticising her drug use, but rather looking to assemble a picture of her life that captures its admixture of daily trials and challenges, fleeting triumphs, pleasures and acts of resistance. Here we are making room for the kind of embodied and intimate political work that often gets left out of discussions of more formal anti-prohibitionist activism and organisation.

History

Journal

Sociological Review

Volume

71

Pagination

781-800

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

0038-0261

eISSN

1467-954X

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

4

Publisher

Sage Publications

Usage metrics

    Research Publications

    Exports

    RefWorks
    BibTeX
    Ref. manager
    Endnote
    DataCite
    NLM
    DC