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The Pastoral Clinic

The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Pastoral Clinic
    Book Description:

    The Pastoral Clinictakes 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 Clinicis at once a devastating portrait of addiction, a rich ethnography of place, and an eloquent call for a new ethics of care.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94782-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-36)

    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...

  6. ONE Graveyard
    (pp. 37-68)

    The heroin detoxification clinic lies at the end of a typical road in the Española Valley. Little more than a path, the road is unpaved, deeply rutted, and strewn with shards of broken glass. Pack dogs roam along it and are prepared to chase—for a few moments at least—the occasional passing car or three-wheeled ATV. Crumbling adobe houses line the road, abandoned for newer trailer homes. The adobes and the trailers sit adjacent to one another, marking a transition between generations. Both are set on small plots of land once used for cultivating squash, chile, and corn. Like...

  7. TWO The Elegiac Addict
    (pp. 69-110)

    On the cusp of her twenty-ninth birthday, Alma Gallegos was discovered lying in the parking lot near the emergency room entrance at Española Hospital. Like many patients that present at this ER, she was anonymously dumped by acquaintances who likely feared she might die or was already dead. According to the physician who treated her, Alma was close to death: her breath was shallow; her heart rate was barely discernible; and, despite the intense summer heat, her skin was cold to the touch. On quick inspection of her swollen limbs, the physician determined that Alma had overdosed on heroin, and...

  8. THREE Blood Relative
    (pp. 111-149)

    On a warm summer evening, a dozen women gather in a community center in the village of Chimayó. There are ten support group participants, the facilitator, and me. The participants are heroin addicts who have been court appointed to attend this group as a condition of their drug sentence, which in most cases stemmed from a possession-related offense. We sit on tattered couches positioned in the form of a triangle. The facilitator asks the two new members to introduce themselves. Of course, they are not really new. As it is with most of the women gathered together on this evening...

  9. FOUR Suicide as a Form of Life
    (pp. 150-182)

    Scene One: Imagine standing in a field of snow. There is snow falling everywhere about your body—tiny, white petals of it—hushing, as they fall, all sound; absorbing, as they fall, all traces of shape and color. You stand still, mesmerized by how the snow swallows your breath and by how little breath your body seems to need to stand so quietly alone. You feel warm, and are grateful for it, even as your skin turns cold. Gradually, this thickening veil of whiteness obscures your body, until you disappear altogether from this wintry scene. But you are unaware of...

  10. FIVE Experiments with Care
    (pp. 183-204)

    I had three sets of neighbors during the time I conducted my research, and all were related to each other by blood or by marriage. For the most part, I only talked to the “good ones.” I bought my firewood from them, and we exchanged homemade gifts during the holidays. Their dogs played with my dogs. They kept an eye on things when I was out of town, including and especially myotherneighbors—their relatives—who I worried about and who they agreed Ishouldworry about. More than once, they reported that they had to come to my...

  11. CONCLUSION: A New Season
    (pp. 205-210)

    One of the issues of researching “home” is that you never really leave, and the research never really ends. Such work is, as Alma said,sin termina, without end.

    This dilemma makes writing a conclusion especially difficult. Perhaps it is especially difficult in matters such as those this book presents—matters of life and death. For lack of a better term, I want to do “justice” to the lives that I have described here—to tell you how they continue, to introduce you to the lives that I now know, and to mourn the newly departed.

    Let me share this....

  12. Notes
    (pp. 211-222)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-236)
  14. Index
    (pp. 237-248)