Dissertation Abstracts: Drug History Edition

At Points we periodically post abstracts for dissertations published in fields relevant to the history of drugs, graciously compiled by Jonathon Erlen, History of Medicine Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh (erlen@pitt.edu). Last week we offered you an interdisciplinary collection, somewhat representative of the ongoing bibliography, minus hard science fields such as neuroscience and pharmacology. This week, we bring you an assortment of international histories of drug use, policy, and commerce.

Narcotics vs. the Nation: The Culture and Politics of Opiate Control in Britain and France, 1821–1926

Author: Padwa, Howarad Philip

Abstract: Even though they faced similar drug problems in the early-twentieth century, Britain and France adopted radically different approaches towards narcotics control and addiction. The British allowed for their addicted citizens to receive maintenance treatments for their opiate habits, and pushed for stringent controls internationally; the French, by contrast, took a more penal approach towards handling addiction at home, yet were not particularly enthusiastic when it came to the global struggle against narcotics. In this dissertation, I set out to explain why this came to be by examining the development of drug discourses in the nineteenth century, and then the birth of each country’s national narcotics control regime in the first two decades of the twentieth. Using primary-source evidence mined from contemporary works of literature, medical texts, journalistic accounts, official government documents, and state archives, I argue that the driving forces behind the British and French pushes towards narcotics control in the early-twentieth century lay in broader understandings of the nation, and fears of what narcotics could do to the national community if the state did not intervene. In Britain, where the nation was imagined as one defined by liberty and freedom of trade, narcotics became a major concern for the authorities in London when they were feared to pose an economic threat—both by making citizens apathetic and unwilling to work, and by endangering the nation’s ability to continue trading freely with other countries that had already placed restrictions on the drugs. In France, on the other hand, narcotics became particularly problematic because of their association with solipsism, and their apparent irreconcilability with the tenets of republican citizenship. Consequently, the French crusade against narcotics was painted with a particularly nationalist brush, and was instigated by the military, not the guardians of public health. Officials in Britain and France approached the task of narcotics control differently, therefore, because they had two very different goals—to preserve economic well-being in Britain, and to preserve ideological well-being in France.

Advisor: Baldwin, Peter

University/institution: University of California, Los Angeles

 

“Red Tabs”: Life and Death in the 6th South African Armoured Division, 1943 – 1945

Author: Bourhill, James Fraser

 

Abstract: The thesis seeks to understand, first and foremost, what the members of the 6 th South African Armoured Division in Italy during the Second World War experienced in their day-to-day lives on campaign. It is therefore primarily a social history. Although an exhaustive analysis of the demographics of the division is beyond the scope of this study, an attempt was made in Chapter 2 to identify some of the characteristics of the volunteers and their motivations for enlisting. Recruitment statistics and other sources show that in the final stage of the war, volunteers were most likely to be school-leavers and university students. Chapters three to eight detail the daily life in camp and on the road as the division progressed up the length of Italy. The main themes revolve around the necessities of life, recreation, leisure and ways of dealing with long periods of inactivity. The more controversial topics of sexuality, alcohol use, and battle fatigue are not avoided. Regardless of the capacity in which they served, all those attached to the 6th South African Armoured Division experienced the country and its people. Homesickness, discomfort and the fulfilling of basic needs was the common bond. Chapter nine examines the topic of casualties and what it reveals about the men and their experience. At first glance, it would appear that the casualty rate was exceptionally low for a front line division. However, on closer examination, the casualty rate was found to be in line with that experienced by other nations involved in the Italian campaign. As expected, it was found that casualties occurred mainly in infantry units, although accidents accounted for 25 per cent of injuries. In the final chapter, the conclusions are presented and discussed in a theoretical context. Memory is used as a category of analysis. Scholars are in agreement that distortion and cleansing occurred due to the tendency of contemporary accounts to accentuate the positive. The needs of post-war society also helped to ensure that the language and experience of the front line soldier was overwhelmed.

Advisor: Pretorius, F.

University/institution: University of Pretoria (South Africa)

Department: Historical And Heritage Studies

 

Grand Plans in Glass Bottles: A Social, Economic, and Technological History of Beer in Egypt, 1880-1970

Author: Foda, Omar D.

 

Abstract: Contrary to common perceptions, the history of beer (and indeed of other alcoholic beverages) in the Muslim-majority context of Egypt has not been a history of government officials desperately seeking to extirpate the evil of alcohol as rumrunners, backyard brewers, and moonshiners stayed one step ahead. Rather it was a history of a commercially-marketed product that enjoyed relatively wide popularity and robust growth from 1880 to 1980, and sat at the cutting edge of technological innovation in Egypt in that same period. Its success was not only evident from the profitability of the companies that sold it, but also from its increasing appearances in all popular forms of art and media. The title of my dissertation is “Grand Plans in Glass Bottles: An Economic, Social, and Technological history of Beer in Egypt, 1880-1970”. My dissertation studies Egypt during an exciting period, when the country was transitioning from being a quasi-colonial state, under British Occupation after 1882 and, until 1914, under Ottoman influence as well, to being an independent country within a highly competitive global economy. Using American, Dutch, and Egyptian archival sources, as well as Arabic literary sources, I focus on two closely linked companies, Crown and Pyramid Breweries. Originally founded by Belgian expatriates in Egypt, these two firms in their various incarnations developed the Egyptian beer industry and cultivated a wide customer base. I take the story past the 1950s, when the Egyptian government under Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the beer industry (which was by then led by Stella Beer and owned primarily by Heineken) much as it nationalized the Suez Canal. Through the study of this beverage, my research connects the history of Egypt to Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, and elsewhere; the history of a business to developments in technology, politics, and consumer culture; and the history of the people – of “everyday Egyptians” – to business elites. Viewed through a mug of beer, we can tell the economic, political, and cultural history of Egypt at large.

 

Advisor: Sharkey, Heather J.

 

University/institution: University of Pennsylvania

Department: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Strange and Complicated Future of the E-Cigarette Industry

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Camille Wilson, a patent attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, with extensive experience researching e-cigarettes. Enjoy!

Last January, in 2015, I[1] wrote about the patent evolution of e-cigarettes up until that point. I also made some general predictions about the e-cigarette industry, mostly favoring Big Tobacco. Only a short twenty months later, the entire landscape is about to change…and it will most likely favor Big Tobacco, in one way or another.

But why the shift?

In May 2016, the FDA finalized a rule (a very dense 134 page rule, to be exact) extending their regulatory power established by the Tobacco Control Act in 2007 to cover all tobacco products, which now includes e-cigarettes. That rule officially went into effect on August 8, 2016, starting the clock for the entire industry to disprove that their products are “not appropriate for the protection of public health.” (“Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act”, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Restrictions on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products, 81 Fed. Reg. 28975, May 10, 2016) (Amending 21 C.F.R. §§ 1100, 1140, and 1143). I use the term “disprove” because the entire rule seems to presume that all e-cigarette products do not protect public health; so, the onus is placed on the manufacturers to prove otherwise.

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The German Museum of Pharmacy: A Historiographic Time Capsule

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Miriam Kingsberg, an assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. This summer she visited the Deutsches Apotheken-Museum in Munich and has provided us with a review of its collections. All photos are courtesy of her as well. Enjoy!

During a two-month sojourn in Germany this summer, I eagerly anticipated a visit to Munich’s famed Beer and Octoberfest Museum—in the name of “research,” naturally. Less renowned than this hotspot and its many sister institutions, but equally relevant to historians of intoxicants, is the country’s sole attempt to reconstruct its pharmaceutical history: the Deutsches Apotheken-Museum (hereafter referred to as DAM), located since 1958 in the breathtaking Heidelberg Castle.

exterior of DAM

The exterior of the Deutsches Apotheken-Museum

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Teaching Points: “The History of Drugs in Twentieth-Century America”

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Marco Ramos and Tess Lanzarotta. Ramos is an MD/Ph.D. candidate in the History of Science and Medicine program at Yale University focusing on the production and circulation of scientific knowledge during the Cold War in the global south. Lanzarotta is a Ph.D. candidate in the same department focusing on the ways that contemporary interactions between biomedical researchers and indigenous populations are shaped by their historical antecedents. This summer, Ramos and Lanzarotta taught a course on the history of drugs in the twentieth century and we’ve invited them to contribute to our “Teaching Points” series. Enjoy! 

Over the course of five weeks this summer, we co-taught a course on “The History of Drugs in Twentieth-Century America.” As discussed in our earlier post, we decided to focus the course around historical processes of drug categorization, rather than on a single drug or class of drugs. We hoped that this approach would draw undergraduate students’ attention to the ways that systems of drug classification are and have been shaped by their historical contexts. In particular, we felt it was crucial to emphasize the ways that drug categories affect and are affected by the people who use and regulate drugs.

Part of the impetus for the course was our own sense that historical analysis makes a particularly useful tool for understanding contemporary dilemmas surrounding drug use and drug policy. Bearing that in mind, we structured our classroom discussions and course assignments to encourage students to draw lessons from the past and bring them to bear on the present. The class was a seminar format with sessions running for three hours, twice each week; we tried to break up this rather long classroom time by delivering short lectures, showing documentaries and television episodes, visiting the Yale Medical Historical Library and Yale Art Gallery, and by bringing in guest speakers who could share their perspectives and expertise.

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Jews and Brews

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Miriam Kingsberg, an assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She visited the Jewish Museum Munich in July 2016 and has provided this review of their recent show, “Beer is the Wine of This Land: Jewish Brewery Tales.” Enjoy!

Friends of ADHS may be interested to learn of a new bilingual (German and English) exhibit: “Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewery Tales” at the Jewish Museum Munich (Jüdisches Museum München). This event is part of a city-wide celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the “Purity Law” that restricted German beer ingredients to barley, hops, and water (yeast was added later). The exhibit was inaugurated in April 2016 and will run through August 1, 2017. Admission is included in the museum’s general ticket price (6 euros for adults, 3 euros for students and the elderly, free for children under age eighteen).

German Jewish Museum

Jewish Museum Munich exterior and beer garden, summer 2016 (author photo)

The Jewish Museum Munich opened in 2007 in the heart of the old city, next to a new synagogue completed a year earlier (the historic synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht). Observers may notice a (deliberate) contrast to the iconic Jewish Museum of Berlin, which was established in 2001 and is often regarded as a model for similar institutions around the country. Berlin traces the full sweep of Jewish history in Germany and northern Europe, with special attention to the Third Reich (1933-1945) and the Holocaust. The Munich museum, by contrast, does not find it possible to reconstruct Jewish life under the Nazis, citing the lack of surviving artifacts as the primary reason. Instead, the institution seeks to educate the local public and visitors about Jewish culture and experiences—an especially important mission given today’s relatively small local community. On the basement floor, ritual objects from the permanent collection highlight the observances, celebrations, and rhythms of Jewish life.

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Religion and Anti-Prohibition

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Brendan Payne, a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. History at Baylor University finishing his dissertation, “Cup of Salvation: Race, Religion, and (Anti-)Prohibition in Texas, 1885-1935.” Enjoy!

Jews and BoozeWhen I tell people that my dissertation addresses religion and alcohol prohibition, many recall stories of relatives involved in the noble experiment. Almost invariably, those who make a point of their ancestors’ religiosity recount how they joined the crusade for prohibition, such as a grandmother who led a chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union or a minister who railed against demon rum, while those who mention their grandfather’s bootlegging have little to comment on his piety. The implicit assumption – that religion inspired only prohibition’s backers and not its opponents – may be too blunt for most scholars to state plainly, though this assumption casts a significant shadow over much of prohibition scholarship. Only a few books, such as Marni Davis’s Jews and Booze, deal in-depth with an overwhelmingly wet religious minority, though even that work is more interested in the tremendously important questions of ethnicity and American identity than in religion as such. Too many academic works on prohibition that address religion either focus almost exclusively on drys or oversimplify the connection between faith and prohibition, with (for example) Catholics always being wet and Baptists invariably dry.

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Teaching Points: History as a Resource for Understanding Drugs Today

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Marco Ramos and Tess Lanzarotta. Ramos is an MD/Ph.D. candidate in the History of Science and Medicine program at Yale University focusing on the production and circulation of scientific knowledge during the Cold War in the global south. Lanzarotta is a Ph.D. candidate in the same department focusing on the ways that contemporary interactions between biomedical researchers and indigenous populations are shaped by their historical antecedents. Together, Ramos and Lanzarotta are teaching a course on the history of drugs in the twentieth century and we’ve invited them to contribute to our “Teaching Points” series. Enjoy! 

ClassroomThe idea for our course on the history of drugs developed out of a conversation a few years ago concerning the medical management of opiate addiction in our community of New Haven, CT. We are both graduate students in the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University, and Marco is also a medical student at Yale School of Medicine. Having recently completed a clinical rotation at the hospital, Marco reflected on the patient-blaming and suspicion that often accompanies discussions of opiate prescription among physicians. During his rotation, he heard physicians and residents bemoan their patients who requested, and often demanded, opiate prescriptions. He watched as physicians speculated about whether patients were “feigning” their pain to acquire drugs and realized that physicians made judgments about who should receive opiate prescriptions based on imperfect, biased assumptions about what “addicts” looked like racially and economically. Given the large body of medical evidence that demonstrates addiction is not a matter of voluntary choice or individual responsibility, Marco wondered why physicians continued to blame and shame patients for their struggles with addiction.

Tess pointed to the utility of history in understanding opiate addiction in the United States today. She discussed the pharmaceutical companies’ role in this story, as the industry downplayed the addictiveness of opiates and encouraged their widespread use for profit in the medical community throughout the 1980s and 90s. A long history of inadequate consumer protections from the Food and Drug Administration did not safeguard patients from the rapid circulation of this dangerous class of drugs during this period. Though the pharmaceutical industry and a weak federal regulatory body were largely to blame for the growing incidence of opiate addiction across the country, drug enforcement held individual patients responsible for their addictions.

As the conversation progressed, we began to reflect on the importance of history for understanding dilemmas — like opiate addiction — presented by drugs today. We imagined a course that would focus on the history of drugs as a way of generating “useful pasts” that could inform how our students thought about drugs and drug policy in the present. As our thinking evolved, we drafted an application to co-teach a course that centered on the categorization of drugs across the twentieth century. Rather than using drugs as a lens to understand social, cultural, legal, or political history in the Unites States, we hoped to use history to reflect on drug categories themselves. We were interested in how lines dividing chemically active substances into categories and classes, such as illicit and licit or medical and recreational, have shifted across the twentieth century. Historically shifting boundaries between drugs have hinged upon changing cultural norms surrounding the characterization of “use” versus “abuse,” the prescribed treatments or punishments for drug users, and the labelling of drug use as an individual or social problem. Such beliefs continue to be wrapped up in socially-mediated understandings of identity — along ethnic, racial, gender, class, and religious lines — and in opposing ideologies of health and governance.

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