Accepted Paper:

Intimacy over 'evidence': disrupting modes of knowing drug-related harm  


Fay Dennis (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Following the drug-body-worlds I encountered in my research with people who use drugs, and speculating on a study which explicitly engages in these collectives, I will explore how intimacy offers a way of knowing and intervening with bodies and drug affects where 'evidence' is inherently curtailed.

Paper long abstract:

'Evidence' and 'evidence-based policy' dominate challenges to contemporary drug policy seen as 'ideological'. Nowhere is this heard louder than in response to drug-related deaths, currently at their highest levels ever in the UK. Even its strongest proponents, however, are now recognising that the evidence is not working (Stevens, 2018). Certain technologies 'known' to reduce drug-related deaths, such as drug consumption rooms, are repeatedly discredited by the Home Office (2018). This paper explores the value of intimacy as an 'otherwise' to knowing drug-related harm and death.

Taking my lead from the drug-body-worlds I encountered in my doctoral ethnographic research with people who inject drugs (predominantly heroin and crack cocaine), I approach drug-using bodies as more-than-human processes, made up of substances, 'paraphernalia', technologies, discourses etc., and their health and illness or 'power to act' (Deleuze, 1992) as constituted through these relations.

Taking these observations further and responding to calls for 'onto-politically oriented drug research' (Fraser, 2017), I explore 'intimacy' as a way of engendering new kinds of bodies and drug affects. Indeed, I will speculate on a project starting in June in which I seek to explicitly engage publics, through arts-based methods, as a form of experiment (Lezaun et al. 2017), an intimate experiment, for curating 'healthier' drug-body-worlds.

Panel A15
Intimate entanglements in science and technology