Fernando Montero’s (PhD, Anthropology) research draws together the methods of medical and economic anthropology to examine the racialized, gendered interface between the opioid overdose epidemic, mass incarceration, ongoing transformations in narcotics supply chains, and public assistance programs for psychiatric disability in the United States. His mixed-methods research studies the changes in the risk environment for HIV, HCV, mental health conditions, and fatal overdose among street-based drug users brought about by the emergence of synthetic sedatives (e.g. fentanyl and xylazine) and stimulants (e.g. methamphetamine) in the 2010s-2020s, and by the concomitant resurgence of punitive drug control targeting petty dealers throughout the US.
One of the central questions of his current research is why the opioid overdose epidemic is becoming increasingly black following almost three decades in which it was predominantly white and working class. He is also conducting a long-term ethnographic study of the War on Drugs and militarization in the Afro-Indigenous region of Moskitia on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras.