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ON 21-22 August 2017, JIAS hosted a workshop on ‘Opioids and Harm Reduction in South Africa: Opening a Multidisciplinary Conversation’.

 The workshop was co-sponsored by the Department of History of the University of Johannesburg, and funded from a Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (KIC) grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Opioid addiction and overdose deaths are drawing renewed attention to questions about chemical dependency and treatment. Shifts in drug policy paradigms, from criminalisation to harm reduction, have been guiding new thinking worldwide, and this is also the case in South Africa.

South Africa has a unique history in which chemical controls and controlling chemicals have been imbricated with colonial and apartheid regimes. Currently, dilemmas around drugs and addiction are compounded by scarcity, socio-economic disparity and polarized public opinion.

What can humanities research and multidisciplinary collaborations offer in support of local initiatives and civic interventions aimed at transforming policies and treatment practices, so as to reduce harms for drugs users and for society more generally?

This workshop brought together some pioneering researchers and civic actors who focus and guide thinking and policy discussions on these issues.

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