Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michelle Brown

Committee Members

Tyler Wall, Christina Ergas, Travis Linnemann


The impact of the current opioid crisis on Southern Appalachia has catalyzed shifts towards public health-based harm reduction in the United States (US) regime of criminalized drug prohibition. Engaging a vital issue of debate—whether or not these shifts are significantly altering the "war on drugs"—my dissertation uses a conjunctural perspective to examine how the state is mobilizing harm reduction to violently reconfigure and resolve the structural contradictions condensed within the opioid crisis under a pretense of care. By locating present struggles over harm reduction in Southern Appalachia within longer movements, moments, and histories of mutual aid organizing, I identify key sites of potential rupture from which to point towards abolitionist alternatives.

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