Cultural Histories of Substance Abuse and E-History: Creating an International Multilingual Research Network

E-Humanities and E-History, the digitization of historical data and the development of text and sentiment mining tools to explore these data, bring new challenges and possibilities for research into the developing field of the history of alcohol and drugs.

E-History
E-History

More in particular, E-History – when combined with more traditional historical methods – can stimulate and facilitate the creation of an international comparative and multilingual project of transnational drug histories. Such a project will tackle major problems of comparative research: the existence of various language barriers, and the vast size of the primary sources, especially when these become more and more available in an age of digitization.

Last year I discussed these tools in the Points blog. In my own research, e-tools turned out to be helpful in tracing and analyzing public perceptions of drugs use and trafficking, for instance as present in the work of the creator of Tintin, Hergé.

Hergé on drugs
Hergé on drugs

Since a few years we, Toine Pieters and Stephen Snelders, are working at the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) on the exploration and development of E-History tools. At the end of this week we will be present at the conference of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society in London. In the discussions, fringes and corridors of this Under Control conference we would like to talk with those interested about concrete steps in creating a research network – a network that focuses on comparative cultural histories of substance use using digital software with an international user base.

We are planning an expert meeting later this year at Utrecht University, to solidify and deepen the outcomes of these talks. At this meeting we will discuss the necessary conditions for international research, the methods and tools that will be used, and possibilities for funding the research. We would like to make an inventory of researchers interested in future participation in the network, and in attending this expert meeting.

Toine Pieters
Toine Pieters
Stephen Snelders
Stephen Snelders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We invite all people at the conference who are interested in discussing our ideas and in participating in their development to address us, Toine Pieters and Stephen Snelders, at the conference, or to react to this blog post by email. We hope to create an international group of researchers who enthusiastically but cautiously will explore new avenues in alcohol and drugs history.

3 thoughts on “Cultural Histories of Substance Abuse and E-History: Creating an International Multilingual Research Network

  1. Good luck with this, guys. We’ll be excited to hear how it turns out. I won’t be there and kind of don’t know a thing about e-history, but I’m tempted to hunt Stephen down just so that I can see those shoes in person. (You’ve got to wear those now so that people can easily spot you.)

  2. The project that you have embarked on is fascinating. I am pursuing my research on the history of intoxication. I am in the final stages of submission of my dissertation- a 150 year history of opium use in Assam(1800-1950), a north east state of Indian subcontinent. I am also a member of Institute for Narcotic Studies and Analysis, New Delhi(India) and in December, we are organising a seminar discussing the narcotics policy of India.
    I am writing to you to express my interest in participating and contributing to the project. I have a collection of primary sources for the history of opium, ganja and tobacco use. Indeed I was planning to visit all major archives of India and collect primary sources on use and abuse of intoxicants/stimulants in varied cultural and social settings.
    I will look forward to your response.

  3. This expert meeting sounds very exciting. I would like to attend, if that’s possible. I’m a student at the Universiteit Utrecht, studying International Relations in Historical Perspective. I’m currently writing a masterthesis about the Dutch Drug policy and how it is influenced by international politics. I’m focussing on the international origins of the Dutch policy and looking if there is room for the Dutch government to head in a new pragmatic direction.

    E-History could provide new and vast valuable information and data that would add to drug policy research in so many ways.

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