Drug Researchers' Roundtable: Drug Politics, Pariahs, and Political Subjects: Historiographical Notes Toward a Harm Reduction of Color Critique


The presentation discussed a "harm reduction of color" that acknowledges the social/political aspects of drugs are bound by structures that maintain inequality for people and communities of color.


Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr. an Associate Professor of History  (Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) and Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences (Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University), and a former Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS). He writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American history, medical and public health history, urban history, and the history of social movements. In 2013-14, Dr. Roberts was the Policy Director of Columbia University’s newly inaugurated Justice Initiative (now the Columbia University Center for Justice) and was the editor of the Center’s first research publication Aging in Prison: Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety (2015). Dr. Roberts is also the host of the podcast People Doing Interesting Stuff (PDIS) – also available on iTunes --  in which he “talks and thinks out loud with special guests, including activists and organizers, writers, artists, social entrepreneurs, public figures, and others about what they do, and how, why, and where they do it.”

Roberts is currently researching and writing a book-length project, tentatively titled “To Enter a Society Which Doesn’t Want Them”: Race and Recovery in America’s Heroin Capital. This project explores the social and political evolution of drug addiction “rehabilitation” from at the beginning of the postwar heroin epidemic, to the emergence of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in the 1960s, the search for medico-carceral solutions in the late 1960s and 1970s, and syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and other harm reduction efforts in the 1980s-1990s.