Guest Lecturer to Discuss Narratives of Addiction | St. Lawrence University

Guest Lecturer to Discuss Narratives of Addiction

St. Lawrence University’s Department of Global Studies will host Anastasia Hudgins, medical anthropologist and ethnographer, who will deliver a talk on addiction from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, in Sykes Common Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Hudgins talk, titled “Narrating Addiction: Weaving Subjectivity through Ethnography,” discusses that most laws and policy interventions place blame on the drug user, labeling addiction as a manifestation of criminality or moral failure. Around the world, narratives of causation, blame and prevention flow from cities and rural settings, institutions and nation-states through the discourse of politicians, bureaucrats, and a broad range of experts. Much of this discourse is a form of storytelling in itself that reflects particular lexicons, resources, ways of knowing and perceived threats to political order and social capital.

Hudgins’ work as a practicing anthropologist for international organizations, urban hospitals, and health departments sometimes places her at odds with these narratives. In her lecture, she discuss the challenges of departing from the quantitative analysis upon which these entities typically rely as she uses ethnography to induce narrative modes of inquiry into the construction of knowledge about addiction and care. Through this approach, she prioritizes person’s narratives of experience, expressions of suffering, and constructions of meaning, truly making them the expert in addiction. By prioritizing people’s subjectivity, the work carries the message that we are all produced by local and global social contexts, and that stories are not just decoration, but must be foundational to efforts that address addiction and alleviate human suffering.

Hudgins is a medical anthropologist and ethnographer. Much of her work revolves around the relationship between health, social policy and human rights, with the goal of achieving social justice. Through ethnographic research with clients including UNICEF-Vietnam, Médeçins Sans Frontières, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, she makes space for the research to be guided by an inclusion of the voices of those who experience the problem. Currently an adjunct fellow for the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, Hudgins has held full-time faculty appointments at Rutgers, Temple University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she taught courses in gender theory, visual anthropology, medical anthropology and ethnographic methods, among many others.

For more information, contact the Department of Global Studies at 315-229-5965 or visit