Call for Papers: The Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference 2015

Call for Papers

Borders, Boundaries & Contexts:  Defining Spaces in the History of Alcohol & Drugs

Papers and panel proposals are invited for an international conference on the history of alcohol and drugs to be held at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA on June 1821, 2015.  Panel proposals (3 x 20-minute papers) or individual papers (20 minutes) are invited.  We will also consider proposals for fringe sessions using non-conventional formats e.g. screenings, debates, demonstrations etc.

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Guest Post: Jonathon Erlen’s Dissertation Abstracts

Editor’s Note: Readers of Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society’s journal, are aware of Jonathon Erlen‘s ongoing bibliography of recent dissertations related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Until now, Dr. Erlen, the History of Medicine Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, curated and published his dissertation lists in the print edition of the journal. In the spirit of rapid dissemination and open access, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society has moved the publication of Erlen’s bibliography to the blog. Below, we highlight a few of the most intriguing entries and provide links to pdfs of Erlen’s selections from the monthly ProQuest index. These entries were released by ProQuest in the summer and fall of 2013.

Links to complete bibliographies:

ATOD Bibliography Vol 75, issue 1

ATOD Bibliography Vol 75, issue 2

ATOD Bibliography, Vol 75, issue 3


An econometric analysis of cocaine use by methadone maintenance therapy patients

Author: Nichols, Ezekiel

Department: Economics (Business); Subject: Economics; Economic theory; Public health

Institution: The University of Alabama

Advisor: Cover, James; Committee: Lee, Junsoo, Underwood, Shane, Elder, Harold, Riches, Daniel

Abstract: This dissertation uses proprietary drug screening data, illicit drug prices from the DEA STRIDE database, and national and local macroeconomic variables to measure the price responsiveness and treatment effectiveness of methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) on patients in a voluntary, methadone-treatment program in a rural Alabama county. This is done using conventional, myopic, and rational models of demand. The demand for illicit drugs is found to be sensitive to national drug prices as estimated from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s System to Retrieve Drug Evidence (STRIDE), length of time in treatment, previous consumption, and the local unemployment rate. An important innovation in this paper is the use of temperature data from coca-plant-growing regions as an instrument for the cocaine prices taken from the DEA STRIDE database. Use of this instrument yields estimation results more in line with the predictions one obtains from economic theory. The estimation results imply that methadone maintenance therapy is a substitute for all illicit drugs under analysis. The implied price elasticity of cocaine use by MMT patients ranges from -0.0003 to -0.01284 and the unemployment elasticity of cocaine use is -0.00385.

The Sober Self: Discourse and identity of recovering alcoholics in the Western Highlands of Guatemala

Author: Pezzia, Carla

Department: Anthropology; Subject: Cultural anthropology; Mental health; Public health

Institution: The University of Texas at San Antonio

Advisor: Fleuriet, K. Jill; Committee: Cepek, Michael, Halvaksz, Jamon, Lanehart, Sonja, Wallace, James M.

Abstract: In this dissertation, I focus on how political, economic, and cultural histories influence experiences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism recovery amongst indigenous community members in Panajachel, Guatemala. My research goals were twofold: 1) to document and understand the political, economic, and sociocultural processes that impact the prevalence of alcoholism, treatment options and experiences, and sobriety attempts among Panajachelense problem drinkers and 2) to use this information to contribute to ongoing efforts to expand and improve mental health outreach to problem drinkers in the area. I combine ethnographic and epidemiological methodologies within a critically engaged phenomenological framework to document the enduring influence of discriminatory discourses on the lived experience of alcohol addiction and recovery in a historically oppressed population, namely the Kaqchikel Maya. Utilizing ethnographic, epidemiological, and critical discourse analysis from data derived from fifteen months of fieldwork, I argue that national historical discourses that equated indigeneity with alcoholism continue to impact perceptions of alcoholic individuals at the local level. While both men and women are affected by alcoholism, national and local discourses typically focus on male drinking. Moreover, prevalence data I collected highlight how alcoholism disproportionately affects men in Panajachel. As such, the primary focus of this dissertation is centered on male alcoholic individuals in the process of recovery. I demonstrate how the phenomenological shift from an alcoholic identity to a sober self is influenced and constructed by historical political and contemporary social and economic processes amongst the Kaqchikel Maya in Panajachel. The difficult negotiation of sobriety arises from a state of disequilibrium between the external identity of “alcoholic” and the internal experience of the “sober self.” The Sober Self is defined by a phenomenological shift in the natural attitude of the individual that radiates to those he is connected to within his lifeworld. Yet this transformation into the Sober Self is riddled with political, economic, and social barriers that define the experience of alcoholism and impede the process of recovery. Discrimination toward alcoholic individuals poses significant barriers to recovery. Additionally, available treatment models in the region do not meet the needs of the typical alcoholic Panajachelense. The notion of the Sober Self expands upon emerging anthropological literature on self-transformation based in non-Americanized therapeutic processes for sobriety. This dissertation provides one of the first detailed portraits of the experience of alcoholism and recovery in indigenous communities within the Highlands of Guatemala. It builds upon previous anthropological work on alcoholism that limited discussion to the role of the church and Alcoholics Anonymous as primary mechanisms to achieve sobriety in the region. The work presented in this dissertation is meant to highlight the need for more comprehensive treatment programs in order to address the alcohol-related health, social, and economic issues found throughout the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

“Small village/large hell”: Cocaine & incarceration in Lima, Peru

Author: Campos, Stephanie

Department: Anthropology; Subject: Cultural anthropology; Latin American history

Institution: City University of New York

Advisor: Mullings, Leith; Committee: Susser, Ida, Gilmore, Ruth, Diaz-Cotto, Juanita

Abstract: The Establecimiento Penitenciario de Mujueres de Chorrillos (commonly referred to by its previous name, Santa Monica) in Lima, Peru was built in 1952 as a reformatory to hold 300 women but by June 2012 it held over 3,500, many of them serving sentences for drug trafficking. This is the largest female prison in this Andean nation. An intersectional analysis of prisoners’ narratives collected during fieldwork conducted from 2008 to 2009 demonstrates two inter-related processes. First, inequality was produced and reproduced inside this prison through the interconnections of race, gender, class and citizenship. Prisoners’ daily lives and access to resources were constrained by the same inequalities that led to their incarceration. Multiple divisions among women mirrored national and globalized structural inequalities and citizenship in particular emerged as a dividing force. Santa Monica’s stratification system was continuously reproduced as prisoners competed for life dependent resources. Secondly, I show the ways in which women’s labor was the linchpin between the transnational cocaine commodity chain and the prison. Santa Monica transformed into a place to “dispose of” low-level workers of the transnational cocaine commodity chain. Because the majority of these workers were women, their labor became the bond between illegal cocaine and the prison. Those who worked as drug couriers and minor retailers were laboring at the riskiest and most visible jobs to police surveillance. They were arrested when they were no longer needed or once they become a threat to the day-to-day operation of trafficking drugs while the (mostly male) middle managers above them remained in the background. Women’s labor therefore created a symbiotic relationship between the prison and this chain where each side helped the other grow and expand. Once incarcerated, these women faced a hierarchy that shaped options for survival as they served their sentences.

From science to sport: A cross disciplinary examination of the justification for doping bans

Author: Gleaves, John

Department: Kinesiology; Subject: Health and environmental sciences, Disciplinary examination, Justification, Doping, Performance enhancement

Institution: The Pennsylvania State University

Advisor: Kretchmar, R. Scott

Abstract: In this dissertation, I will use a cross-disciplinary approach to evaluate the ethics of doping and performance enhancement in sport. I believe such an approach will help remove many myths and assumptions about the ethics of performance-enhancing substances (PESs) that have long stalled the debate. These myths emerged due largely to scholars misunderstanding or remaining unaware of research that existed beyond their individual “silos” of expertise. Subsequently, one central question regarding the ethics of PESs remains unsatisfactorily answered: are sporting organizations justified to prohibit athletes from using PESs? This question will be at the center of my dissertation. Yet I will not offer any final conclusions about the permissibility of drugs in sport, either. Indeed, I do not believe there are any. What I will claim, instead, is that sporting communities have no necessary grounds for rejecting PESs. Yet contingent reasons may exist justifying their decision to prohibit or regulate athletes’ PES use. In order to provide appropriate context for my later claims, my first two chapters will examine the historical development of the doping attitudes from their nascent stages to the death of Knud Enemark Jensen at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. These chapters provide the necessary context for the modern PES debate by showing how significant cultural movements such as the fascination with doping horses for gambling, muscular Christianity, temperance movements, amateurism, and notions of public health helped shape today’s anti-doping attitudes. Following, my third chapter will turn to modern PESs and the science behind them. This chapter will help establish certain facts about performance enhancement such as performance gains, mechanisms of action and health risks which are important in ethical decision making. These scientifically grounded conclusions will help dismiss many myths as well as shape subsequent evaluations of the arguments for and against prohibiting PESs. This evaluation will come in my fourth chapter, where I will thematically and critically review past literature discussing the ethics of banning PESs in sports. This review will show that little consensus exists regarding the justification for prohibiting PESs and new efforts towards understanding the ethics of PESs may be justified. In my final two chapters, I will use the cross-disciplinary evidence developed in the first half of my dissertation to establish new ways of viewing the PES debate. The first step, which I will address in chapter five, involves viewing the debate as two separate questions: what are the acceptable means for “performance enhancement” and why should sports ban “doping.” In my sixth chapter, I use the cross-disciplinary information to inform a more rational evaluation of PESs, arguing that performance enhancing substances may either improve or harm wellestablished sporting tests. This, I will argue, renders any ipso facto rejection of enhancement unwarranted if not also irrational. I end with an epilogue that cautions against hastily altering the pharmacological landscape as certain issues still remain at work. Despite such issues, I acknowledge that specific PESs may potentially improve certain sports by opening new avenues for enjoyment. Thus I do not conclude that all PESs are necessarily wrong, but that sporting organizations can justifiably choose to ban or regulate athletes’ use of such technologies principally for reasons not typically advanced in the current PES literature.





The Points Interview: Hadar Aviram

Editor’s Note: Today’s interview features Hadar Aviram, a professor of law and the Harry and Lillian Hastings Research Chair at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law. Her new book, Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment (UC Press, 2015) is slated for release in January 2015 and available for pre-order from UC Press and Amazon. Below, Aviram gives Points readers a sneak peek at her argument:

screenshot_1164Describe your book in terms your bartender could understand.

When there’s an economic downturn in a country–does it punish more harshly or more leniently? In 2009, for the first time in almost 40 years, the number of inmates in the United States has declined. The federal government is rethinking its commitment to the drug war. States are abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, and rethinking their sentencing and incarceration practices. My book examines the ways in which the financial crisis has created an opportunity to reform our broken, unsustainable incarceration policies, and gives the readers a tour of the good, bad and ugly consequences of this transformation–including geriatric paroles, rolling incarceration costs onto the inmates themselves, and encouraging prison space bargaining between states, private prison companies, and local facilities. The book also tries to predict the future and sustainability of this new trend.

What do you think a bunch of alcohol and drug historians might find particularly interesting about your book?

Anyone who has been following the financial expenditures on the drug war might find it interesting to ask whether, now, this trend is reversed, and to examine the extent to which financial reasoning has played a role in the “drug truce” we are experiencing on the federal, state, and local level. I expect alcohol and drug scholars will be interested in the analysis of these campaigns, and particularly in their bipartisan appeals.

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Recent News Roundup: The Sobriety Coach Edition

Twelve-step sponsorship is so twentieth century—or so The New York Times would have us believe. In an article published last month in the newspaper’s Fashion and Style section, author Marisa Fox made the case that “recovery coaches,” “once consigned to Hollywood entourages to keep celebrities on the straight and narrow,” are currently trending among upper-class women “from the Upper East Side to the beachfront homes of Boca Raton.”

Last weekend, NPR’s All Things Considered followed the trend, offering a more inclusive description of recovery coaches’ clientele (the stock image that accompanied the report was still a view from the beach).


Diane Diederich/iStockphoto featured on

The historical angle adopted by both news outlets was obvious. The old-fashioned practice of sponsorship—defined by Alcoholics Anonymous as the process by which a person “who has made some progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety”— presents shortcomings in today’s treatment marketplace. The women featured in the Times have the ability to buy their way out of the social awkwardness and fear of exposure that twelve-step meeting attendance invites. The NPR piece notes that people in early recovery don’t always gravitate toward the most adept supporters— coaches, who are trained to provide practical as well as spiritual guidance, can help solve this long-standing problem.

Clipping from Hazelden's MORE program pamphlet. The program offers coaching for clients in early recovery.

Clipping from Hazelden’s MORE program pamphlet. The program offers coaching for clients in early recovery.

As historian and clinician Bill White explained, coaches are not sponsors (they don’t do voluntary twelve-step work on “paid time”) and they’re not quite counselors (they don’t diagnose or probe underlying psychological issues). They occupy a new niche in the service economy that employs more than 75 percent of today’s American workers. They are “the new Pilates instructors,” one coach told the Times. They are compensated to be both “cheerleaders” and “beacons of hope,” another told NPR.

Like NPR reporter Martha Bebinger, I think coaches can produce tremendous benefits, both for people in recovery and for the treatment system as a whole. But the proper role of recovery coaches in today’s health service sector also deserves a systemic critique—and not the trolling, “New York Times Style Suction” sort.

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The Points Interview: Mark Lawrence Schrad (Volume II)

Editor’s Note: Points is pleased to welcome back Mark Lawrence Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University. Schrad last talked to Points about  The Political Power of Bad Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2010). This time, he’s here to reflect on his 400-year history of alcohol and Russia, Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State (Oxford University Press, 2014).

shapeimage_2Describe your book in terms your bartender could understand.

This should come in handy, since in a couple of weeks, I’ll be giving a book talk at my favorite bar. So, here goes:

Walt—my bartender’s name is Walt—you’ve been slingin’ booze here for umpteen years. Have you ever wondered why all the Russians who come in here pass on the wine list and skip past your world-class beer selection just to choke down shot after shot of vodka until they pass out on the floor? There’s a reason—and it’s not that drinking vodka is hard-wired into Russian DNA. Russia’s societal alcoholism has its roots in political and economic decisions made by the autocrats in the Kremlin over the past 400 years.

Imagine that you were a bartender in imperial Russia a few hundred years ago, Walt. First of all, you’d be a state employee, since the alcohol trade was a state monopoly. Your training on day one began with taking an oath—kissing the Orthodox cross—dutifully swearing to maximize the revenue to your sovereign, the tsar. Also, you’d be a pretty ruthless pawnbroker—if some drunk ran out of money while drinking at your tavern, you could easily convince him to sell his shirt, pants or any other worldly possessions to you in exchange for another drink. You were kind of a dick, Walt—why would you do that?

Anyway, back in the seventeenth century, the imperial tavern had all sorts of drinks: fermented wines, beers, ales, porters, and meads, in addition to this new, distilled beverage that the locals called vodka—or “little water.” But since the cost of distilling and selling vodka were just pennies on the dollar—or kopecks on the ruble—it was far more profitable to sell distilled vodka to the local drunks than milder, fermented beverages. Over decades and generations, vodka elbowed-out all of the competition in the taverns, because it had the greatest profit margin for the state. Plus, Walt, your local drunks couldn’t really tell if you watered it down, so you could easily siphon off some of the vodka, sell it on the side, and pocket the dough. But you’d never do that, right?

So since vodka was so central to the state and its finances, any attempt to reduce consumption of vodka—from tsarist Russia straight through the 1980s in the Soviet Union—was seen as an unpatriotic political attack against the state itself, and ruthlessly suppressed. That’s why your Russian customers drink that industrial chemical, Walt, rather than anything more palatable.

Since alcohol plays such a major role in Russian culture, politics, and history, the book then gives you an overview of Russian history—from Ivan the Terrible through the 2012 re-election of Vladimir Putin—through the lens of vodka. Think of them as beer goggles for Russian history—but when viewed through this lens, even some of the most confusing historical developments actually come into sharper view.

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The Points Interview: Museum of the American Cocktail

Earlier this week, I sat down with Liz Williams and Philip M. Dobard of the Museum of the American Cocktail. Liz Williams is the president and director of the SoFAB Institute, which is the Museum of the American Cocktail’s parent organization. Philip M. Dobard is the Vice President of the SoFAB Institute and director of SoFAB Media.

The Museum of the American Cocktail is slated to reopen on September 29th, 2014 in its new location on O.C. Haley Boulevard in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Museum of the American Cocktail includes an extensive absinthe collection.

The Museum of the American Cocktail includes an extensive absinthe collection.

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Borders, Boundaries & Contexts: Defining Spaces in the History of Alcohol & Drugs (Alcohol and Drugs History Society Call for Papers)

G.E. Bula, Gospel Temperance Road Map, 1908 (Library of Congress)

G.E. Bula, Gospel Temperance Road Map, 1908 (Library of Congress)

Papers and panel proposals are invited for an international conference on the history of alcohol and drugs to be held at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA on June 18-21, 2015. Panel proposals (3 x 20-minute papers) or individual papers (20 minutes) are invited.  We will also consider proposals for fringe sessions using non-conventional formats e.g. screenings, debates, demonstrations etc.

Borders, Boundaries and Contexts seeks to break down barriers in the historical study of drugs and alcohol, encouraging transnational approaches and methodologies that transcend the singular focus on alcohol or drugs. The Program Committee invites proposals for individual papers and complete panels exploring how:

  • spaces, boundaries and borders – physical, legal, chronological, psychological, or ideological – have influenced the history of alcohol and drugs;
  • contexts, spatial or otherwise, have shaped the production, consumption, imagination, or regulation of alcohol and drugs;
  • particular “spaces” have defined eras, episodes, or issues in the history of alcohol and drugs.

Proposals from advanced graduate students and recent PhDs are particularly welcome, as are submissions on topics beyond North American and Europe, along with papers and panels that focus on periods before the modern era.

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