Conference Summary: “I’ve Been to Dwight,” July 14-18, 2016, Dwight, IL

Editor’s Note: This conference summary is brought to you by David Korostyshevsky, a doctoral student in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He traveled to Dwight, Illinois, in mid-July to attend the ADHS off-year “I’ve Been to Dwight” conference, and has provided this account of his time there. Thanks David!

On July 14-18, 2016, a group of international alcohol and drug historians descended upon the village of Dwight, Illinois, for an ADHS off-year conference. Conference organizers selected Dwight because 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Keeley Institute.

Founded by Leslie E. Keeley in 1879 (and operating until 1966), the Keeley Institute offered treatment options to patients with addiction, usually alcoholism, including Keeley’s Gold Cure. “I’ve Been to Dwight,” the conference title, references “a catchphrase” former Keeley Institute patients “used to explain their sobriety.”

Keeley

To make it easier to read, this summary is organized thematically. You can see the full conference program here.

I live-tweeted the conference as @rndmhistorian under the hashtag #IBTD16. Also, Janet Olson, volunteer archivist at the Frances Willard Historical Association wrote a blog post about the conference.

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Conference Wrap-Up: Borders, Boundaries & Contexts

Editor’s Note: Today three of our contributing editors – Michelle McClellan, Adam Rathge and Sarah Siff – present their thoughts on the recent international conference of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, which was held from June 18 to 21 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. This year’s theme was “Borders, Boundaries and Contexts: Defining Spaces in the History of Alcohol & Drugs.” Enjoy!

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Dispatches from London: “Under Control?” Conference

This past weekend alcohol and drug scholars across the globe descended upon London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to learn from each other about what they know best, alcohol and drugs.  The interdisciplinary conference does much to encourage scholarship across lines of disciplinary specializations, but also, the nation-state.  Below please find assorted notes from my time abroad:

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Perhaps most noted for his work Andean Cocaine, Paul Gootenberg gave a keynote speech addressing the concept of blowback.  Entitled “Controlling Cocaine?  1900-2000,” Gootenberg began with what might be considered an obvious truth for drug historians—that is, that if read from an historical perspective, the term “drug control” is an oxymoron.  Throughout the 20th century, drug control often perpetuates the antithesis of control.  Drug control efforts by the United States have bred more chaos, more illicit trade, more use, and worst of all, more violence.  In supporting his claim, Gootenberg examined the ways in which United States efforts to control the global supply of cocaine produced various unintended consequences.

Originally an economic historian by trade, Gootenberg makes good use of global commodity chains to explain the story of cocaine and attempts at its control.  In framing the long history of cocaine commodity chains and blowback, Gootenberg broke down the century into several distinct phases, each with specific unintended consequences.  In the first forty years of the 20th century, particularly after 1914, the United States attempted to push anti-cocaine measures onto the international agenda.  During this period, Andean trafficking in cocaine remained relatively benign, marginal, and nonviolent.  Between 1948 and 1973, cocaine came to be increasingly criminalized as illicit networks began to shift outward from the Andean region in response to FBN attempts to crush production in the region.  A pivotal moment in cocaine commodity chain development passed in 1960 when traffickers were exiled under the Cuban Revolution.  These exiled traffickers quickly became a Pan-American Network of traffickers, thereby expanding the commodity network for cocaine traffic.  Still though, Gootenberg carefully noted, the trade remained small and fairly peaceful through 1970.  Continue reading →

ADHS Daily Register: Call for Editors

The Alcohol and Drugs History Society is looking for one or more new Managing Editors of the ADHS Daily Register.  The Daily Register is a long-time online publication of the ADHS, dedicated to providing regular news, publication updates, and announcements of interest to both the members of the organization and the wider, global audience interested in alcohol and drugs history.  The Daily Register is a valuable resource with an extensive readership, and the ADHS seeks to identify Managing Editors willing to help carry on its mission of providing far-ranging news and information.  Prospective Managing Editors should be familiar with the alcohol and drugs history field, and willing to cast a wide net in identifying items of interest to Daily Register readers.  New Managing Editors will have the opportunity to work alongside current Editor David Fahey, to ensure an easy transition of editorial responsibility.  Anyone interested should contact Joe Spillane, at spillane@ufl.edu, for more information.

The ADHS at AHA: Two Panel Possibilities

Editor’s note: Emily Dufton, assisting the ADHS in assembling panel proposals for the AHA conference in January, 2014, passes along two potential panels for which paper contributions are eagerly sought. Please contact Emily directly, at ebdufton@gwmail.gwu.edu, if you are interested. 

1) A drug use and social movements panel: What are the various roles drug use has played in some of the most important grassroots social movements in the United States? Most obviously we relate drug use to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, but drug use has also driven activism within the Black Panthers, religious freedom movements in Native American culture, the gay rights movement seeking greater access to retroviral drugs in the time of AIDS, and the medical marijuana/freedom of access movement of the past two decades. Additionally, reactions against drug use have driven the formation of prohibition activists of the early 20th century and the parent movement of the late 20th century. Reading the term “social movement” as widely as possible, what other roles has drug use played in social movements that have transpired across the United States?

2) Drug use and urban history panel: Drugs have become a symptom of urban neglect for decades, and their eradication has long been read as a symptom of urban renewal. This panel hopes to explore the ways in which drug history and urban history have intersected.  How have drugs, drug use, and anti-drug activism played formative roles in the growth and evolution of cities? What can we learn about urban history from a study of drug use that we cannot learn in other ways?


Shanghai Reflections: A Final Postcard

Editor’s Note: As a final word, here are a few thoughts from Diana L. Ahmad of the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a participant at the conference.  Thanks to Diana for taking a moment to prepare these thoughts.

 In late June, over forty scholars from four continents and eight countries gathered at Shanghai University for a conference devoted to drugs and drink in Asia.  The presenters ranged from graduate students to well-published scholars in the field.

The historic efforts to control the use and spread of opium dominated the topics.  The papers clearly demonstrated that opium impacted more than India, China, or the United States, but indeed, included much of Asia and Europe.  In the Dutch East Indies, for example, the Dutch imperialist government went so far as to exclude the Chinese from selling opium, keeping the business and profits for themselves.  The impact of opium in the Golden Triangle through the years, as well as in Afghanistan, highlighted several of the papers.  The importance of nation-building in areas impacted by opium in the former colonies of the Dutch, British, and French demonstrated the significance the drug had on the politics of the region.  The influence of the drug in Japan and Korea also explained the economic, social, and political impact on those nations, even showing that the Japanese considered themselves superior to the Chinese because of the Chinese opium problems.

The efforts of governments around the world to control opium’s use and sale could be heard in nearly every paper.  Christian missionaries, for example, attempted to eliminate the substance from their areas of influence in Yunnan and Wenzhou, while journalists in the American West campaigned to abolish smoking-opium from their communities.  A significant number of the papers dealt with the impact of opium on the economies of nations.  The imperialist nations that held possessions in Asia had become, willingly or not, importers or exporters of the drug, as opium had become a world trade good in the nineteenth century.  Governments over time, such as Great Britain, China, and the Dutch East Indies, all claimed to dislike opium, but few of them denied that the money was desirable for their nations’ treasuries.  Some suggested opium sales allowed government taxes to be kept to a minimum, such as in Qing China.  Opium, then, produced benefits for nations, not just problems.

Although the conference covered a wide range of topics, including a discussion of modern China’s approach to opium, it would have been great to see a few more papers on other features of the drug.  For example, although the Golden Triangle was noted in several papers, a more thorough discussion of the importance of opium in that area during the conflicts of the twentieth century would have been a good addition.  Although the PRC’s approach to opium was briefly discussed, an analysis of Chairman Mao’s opium policy would have provided an added insight to the panels on modern China.  A few more papers about the social side of opium would have been good to show the impact of the drug on everyday life.  The conference leaned heavily on opium for its papers, although cocaine and marijuana were represented, as well as only one paper on alcohol.  A few more scholars of drink would have been great.

This well run conference provided wonderful accommodations at Shanghai University, terrific meals, and easy flowing conversation.  Student assistants helped conference attendees obtain Shanghai University t-shirts, brought us snacks, tea, and water, and served as phenomenal translators.  It was truly great fun to have a conference in Shanghai, made all the more exciting by the fact that the 1909 Opium Conference was held nearby.  Heartfelt thanks go to the directors of the event….Joseph Spillane from the University of Florida, Yong-an Zhang of Shanghai University and the David F. Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies, and James Mills from the University of Strathclyde.

Shanghai Reflections, Part One: Talking Across Substances

Editor’s Note: This week, I’ll be offering up some reflections on the recently-concluded conference, “Drugs and Drink in Asia: New Perspectives from History,” which was held at the Shanghai University on June 22 and 23, 2012.  The conference itself was organized by Drs. Yong-an Zhang, James H. Mills, and myself (Joe Spillane).  The sponsoring organizations included James Mills’ University of Strathclyde, the Wellcome Trust, the David F. Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies at Shanghai University (headed by Yong-an Zhang), and the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.  As the current President of the latter organization, I was very pleased to assist with the meeting, and to help welcome attendees.  The late Professor Musto would have been very gratified, I think, to have seen this gathering of younger and more senior scholars–together, they provided ample evidence of the maturation of the field of drugs and alcohol history.  Our hope in organizing this meeting was to showcase the “new perspectives” promised in the conference title, and to develop conversations across the boundaries of nation, substance, discipline, and method.  In this week’s posts, I’ll step back and offer some preliminary thoughts on those conversations.

Before I begin, a brief bit of news for Points readers: this month, I’m stepping down as one of the Managing Editors’ for the Points blog.  It has been two years since Trysh Travis and I began preparing to launch this new enterprise, and about eighteen months since our first post.  Since then, we have published over 350 more posts, and attracted a modestly sizable readership.  Most of this success is courtesy of the indefatigable Trysh Travis, with whom it has been an absolute pleasure to work.  I will remain a fully engaged consumer of this blog’s content, and an occasional contributor as well, and look forward to seeing what new surprises Points has in store during the years to come.  Now, back to Shanghai…

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Conference themes are a curious thing.  In theory, they promise a great deal, but all too often end up being nibbled at around the edges over the course of a meeting.  Broad enough to sound exciting, themes are generally also capacious enough to include a lot of conversations that happen simultaneously but largely separately.  The idea of talking about “Drugs and Drink in Asia: New Perspectives from History” provides us with just this sort theme–just coherent enough to tantalize the participant with the possibilities for engaging academic interactions, just big enough to make one worry that too much was going on. Continue reading →