Consumption and Insecurity
This chapter opens by demonstrating how life in the daily-rent hotels marked a battle against drug craving, housing debt, and potential violence. The desperate, shocking, and yet familiar scene of addicted pregnancy in the daily-rent hotels frames the central question of this book: What forms of life are possible here? Every state in the United States has a surveillance system in place to identify prenatal substance use exposure; seventeen states consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse; three consider it grounds for civil commitment, or incarceration. On the blocks of the daily-rent hotels, increased criminalization of the drug-sex economy and rapid gentrification were closing in on addicted, pregnant women, who sought survival and stability. The radical availability of suffering at this site made its ethnographic study a form of social science vulturism. While the ethics and outcomes of addicted pregnancy were uncertain, lives were at stake.