With April Merleaux

Since 1990 overdose deaths in the United States have increased five-fold, resulting in what is best described as an overdose crisis. Many of the states with the highest prescription opioid overdose deaths-and the greatest harms from crystal meth-also vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In this course we will consider the historical contexts for the parallel rise of Trumpism and the overdose crisis. Trump appealed to economically and socially dislocated voters’ xenophobia, using stereotypes about Mexican drug dealers to call for a return to law and order policing and immigration exclusion. The course moves beyond Trump’s rhetoric to explore history and political economy. Topics include: economic decline, demographic transformation, and the crisis of whiteness in the rural heartland; drug production and prohibition in U.S.-Mexico relations; pharmaceutical and insurance company power; histories of pain management, addiction, harm reduction, and movements to end the war on drugs.

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