The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande

The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande

The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande

The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande

Synopsis

The Pastoral Clinic takes us on a penetrating journey into an iconic Western landscape--northern New Mexico's Española Valley, home to the highest rate of heroin addiction and fatal overdoses in the United States. In a luminous narrative, Angela Garcia chronicles the lives of several Hispano addicts, introducing us to the intimate, physical, and institutional dependencies in which they are entangled. We discover how history pervades this region that has endured centuries of material and cultural dispossession, and we come to see its heroin problem as a contemporary expression of these conditions, as well as a manifestation of the human desire to be released from them. Lyrically evoking the Española Valley and its residents through conversations, encounters, and recollections, The Pastoral Clinic is at once a devastating portrait of addiction, a rich ethnography of place, and an eloquent call for a new ethics of care.

Excerpt

The clinic is a house: small, brown, made of straw bale and mud plaster. It sits at the end of an unpaved road ten miles from the nearest town. Fifteen acres of dirt dotted with desert sage surround it and, here and there, clusters of cottonwood trees, dilapidated outbuildings, rusted metal chairs. A netless basketball hoop leans precariously. It looks as though it is about to collapse with the next gust of strong, summer wind. We watch it from our perch by a coffee-can ashtray and wonder when it will finally fall.

John smokes a cigarette and stares blankly at the cloudless blue sky. Though it’s 85 degrees, Lupita’s thin body is wrapped in layers of sweatshirts and blankets. She nods off in her chair, her head rhythmically . . .

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