Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Patricia Clough

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies


Addiction, Queer, Disability, Affect, Shame, Isolation


Much has been written about the subject of addiction, but very little has been written from a queer feminist standpoint. Most of the work available concerning addiction is aimed primarily at a clinical audience, those interested in treating people with addictions. Most non-clinical work is aimed predominantly at people who are either suffering from addiction themselves or close to someone dealing with addiction. In pursuing this thesis project, I want to add the queer feminist discourse as well as a disability discourse to the larger public dialogue on the addict’s embodied identity. I am proposing that the addict’s perspective is a valuable resource that can give voice to the often unmentionable.

Addicts often negotiate with norms. It is here that we witness their attempts to create a sense of an embodied normative self-identity. These sought-after self-identities come with bodily limitations and histories through which the addict has been medicalized and pathologized. In this sense, addicts challenge universalizing norms even while they repeatedly experience extreme levels of discrimination, violence, and intolerance. In looking at the continuity between life-making and the wearing down of an addict’s embodied identities through engagement with sites of administration, discipline, and measure, the addict’s self-identity remains tangled in a complicated web of assumptions about a healthy life, as well as about moral ability to generate self-capacity. Unraveling the addict perspective on self-identity can offer us an understanding of selfhood that is about learning to live with a limited self and body. Thus, the addict’s identity making is a matter of queering the body as well as engaging a disability perspective.

Along with making use of queer theory and disability discourse, I will take my own embodied self-identity as an example of an addict in order to render the knowledge that regulates, controls, and manages marginalized bodies, both ideologically and materially. I will further reflect on the multi-layered manifestations of power and emotion, or affect, that comprise the experience of the addict’s embodiment. Weaving together a personal narrative of addiction and recovery with academic discourses—contemporary queer, feminist, and disability discourse—I will situate the addicts’ perspective alongside these other prominent theoretical perspectives.