“Harm reduction” is a public health model that places emphasis on reducing the negative effects of drug use rather than on eliminating drug use or ensuring abstinence. Based on sixteen months of ethnographic research, this article examines how harm reduction in Argentina is both envisioned and observed as a social practice by analyzing how local harm reductionists position their work in relation to “social context.” My informants consider this social emphasis to be characteristic of a “Latin” kind of intervention, which they differentiate from an “Anglo-Saxon” approach focused on individual behavior change. Differentiating between these “cultural” models of intervention helps Argentine harm reductionists guide their social orientation to drug use, risk, and harm by situating interventions in the contexts in which users live and operate. It also allows them to distinguish their social form of harm reduction from a neoliberal one that they associate with the global North. The construction of these distinct cultural models of intervention is a means of critiquing neoliberal approaches to health that advocate technical solutions to changing individual behavior. Ultimately, this construct acts as a political commentary on the limits of an individual-oriented harm reduction project when applied to the Argentine context.

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