Week In Review: February 20 to February 25, 2012

While late February may be dispiriting to many of our readers who eagerly anticipate the end of winter, we here at Points have no complaints, having had a crackerjack week. We’ve had six authors cover a wide variety of fascinating topics, including the culture of the drug trade in Africa and Mexico, public histrorians’ presentations of drugs and alcohol, a moral panic over alcohol-soaked tampons (yes, you read that one right), prohibition policies in early twentieth century Idaho, and the media’s discussions of Whitney Houston’s drug use. Links to each of these excellent pieces are posted here for your consideration.

Monday: We began the week by posting “When Drugs Were Legal in Mexico” by Froylan Encisco, a Mexican-born journalist and doctoral candidate in the Department of History, SUNY-Stony Brook. His piece, translated from Spanish by Michael Parker-Stainback, describes a fascinating period in Mexican history when the government flirted with drug legalization in 1940.

"Pharmacie" in Essaouria, Morocco.

Tuesday: Our chief Africanist Charles Ambler posted the excellent “African Perspectives on Pharmaceuticals and Drugs.” Charles discusses how Donna Patterson’s presentation at the African Studies Association annual meeting, “Drug Trafficking in Africa:  Historical Cases from West Africa,” got him to thinking about the value of exploring the intertwining histories of legal and illegal drugs in Africa.

Wednesday: On Hump Day, Michelle McLellan posted “Drug Exhibitionism: Alcohol and Drug History in a Local Museum,” a very welcome piece on drugs and public history. Michelle discusses how a group of University of Michigan students designed an exhibit called “Bad Habits: Drinks, Drags, and Drugs in Washtenaw County History” for a local museum, an experience that led Michelle to ask how public space could structure the story she and her students were telling.

Thursday: Michael Durfee dropped a bomb on us all with his delightful post “Absolut Tampax.” Finding Phoenix’s CBS affiliate KPHO-TV choice in news stories somewhat peculiar, Michael discusses KPHO’s decision to report a problem they claim is dogging Arizona high schools – the abuse of alcohol-soaked tampons. This is a fascinating post, but do be aware it includes the term “butt chugging.”

Friday: The work week ended with Ron Roizen’s “So Logical to Us”: Donna Krulitz Smith’s Account of the Complex and Compelling Story of the Prohibition Experience in Northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Mining District.” Ron, having been made aware of Ms. Smith’s fabulous 2004 Master’s thesis, discusses the account of Idaho’s movement toward prohibition (adopted in 1916) and how it played out in the frontier area of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District of Idaho’s northern panhandle.

Saturday: “Friday Reads” has been reborn and, with “Weekend Reads: Whitney Houston Edition,” we explored the ways in which mass media outlets have discussed the role of alcohol and crack in Ms. Houston’s death. How much sympathy do pundits afford her? What does Whitney’s use of crack mean to how we understand her death?