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.

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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…

Conference banner

Advertising drugs, drink, and discussion

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 →

Call for papers: Under control?: alcohol and drug regulation, past and present

Papers and panel proposals are invited for an international conference on the history of alcohol and drug regulation to be held in Bristol, UK 21st-23rd June 2013.

The conference will explore all aspects of drug, tobacco and alcohol regulation. Work covering all periods and places, including recent history, will be considered.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor Virginia Berridge (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Professor Paul Gootenberg (State University of New York)
Professor James Simpson (Carlos III University of Madrid)

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 etc.

Subjects may include (but are not limited to):

  • Global drugs trade and the war on drugs
  • Crime and policing
  • Prohibition
  • Tobacco control
  • Regulation of drugs in art, film and literature
  • Temperance and its influences
  • Alcohol licensing and pricing
  • Media regulation / advertising and marketing
  • Religion and alcohol or drugs
  • Dependency and treatment
  • Policymaking and the political process
  • Alcohol and radical politics / revolutions / social movements
  • Use and control of drugs in premodern cultures
  • Alcohol and drugs in sport and popular culture

Proposal formats:

Panel sessions: brief abstracts (c. 200 words) of each paper plus a brief statement (c. 200 words) outlining the panel theme and a brief biography of participants.

Single papers: brief abstract (c. 200 words) and brief biography

Fringe events: Outline of proposed event (up to 500 words) including proposed content, technical requirements and rationale.

Please send all proposals to undercontrol2013@gmail.com

Deadline for submission: 30th September 2012 

For more information, go to the conference website

Special Announcement: The Points Online Library Project

Look, nobody's saying we'll be Trinity College...

Points‘ mission, in addition to providing readers with a regular opportunity to read new, insightful, and provocative content on the history of drugs and alcohol, is to help further develop  online research and publishing in general. In an age in which WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are fundamentally altering the nature of academia – in both positive and negative ways – it is incumbent for sites like Points to play whatever small role they can in negotiating a working relationship between newer and older forms of research. To that end, we are delighted to announce an exciting new project that will bring the best online research material to current and future readers.

Over the next month, we will be developing the Points Online Library, a virtual repository for links to all manner of open source drug- and alcohol-related materials on the Web. The library will provide links to readily-available studies, one-off articles, periodical archives, PDF-format eBooks, all manner of video, and even pre-existing drug resource databases, all in an easily-searchable format for both casual exploration or serious perusal. Our goal is to facilitate online research by creating, promoting, and maintaining a centralized location for relevant and trustworthy academic resources.

You, the Points reader, can play an important role in the early development of this library, as we’ll be crowdsourcing our readers over the next month in an attempt to build up our holdings before we put the library online in May. We would appreciate it if any readers interested in helping with this project would pass along, either as a comment at the end of this article or in an e-mail, any sites, pages, or downloadable material you’d like to see in the Points library. We’ll be open to suggestions for the next three weeks and we urge you all to send us the links you’d like to see on our site. With your help, the Points library might be a significant resource in the field of drug and alcohol research.

Another Points Milestone, Another List!

You’ll all be pleased to know that Points recently passed the 50,000-view mark–nothing spectacular, of course, but worthy of note in our little corner of the electronic universe.  If you’re new to Points, or just curious, here’s a walk back through the ten most-viewed posts.  If you haven’t seen them before, why not take a look?

What the Hell's it Good For?

11. Siobhan Reynolds, “We Are the Drug War: Prohibition as Success”: I couldn’t help but include this final guest post from Siobhan Reynolds, posted back in July, 2011.  The eleventh-most-viewed post concludes, “it no longer makes sense to talk about the War on Drugs as something we as a nation do. The drug war forms the structure of our political system both domestically and abroad. It is, rather, what we are.”

10. AND 9. Ron Roizen, “Washington State’s Prop. 1183 Passes Easily” AND “Washington State’s Prop. 1183: The Iowa Dustup and Trends Thereafter”: the ninth and tenth most-viewed posts were part of Ron’s extended discussion (in October-November, 2011) of Proposition 1183 and the privatization of liquor sales.  Interest in 1183 led a lot of folks to read Ron’s thoughtful discussion.

8. Siobhan Reynolds, “Abusive Treatment: Drug Prohibition and the Erosion of the Doctor/Patient Relationship”: The third post in Reynolds’ guest series, this one from June, 2011.

Redemption Songs

7. Eoin Cannon, “Boxing, Crack, and Class in The Fighter: This guest post from May, 2011, is the seventh most-viewed.  Cannon’s thoughtful post places the film The Fighter and its story of Dicky Ecklund’s addiction and recovery into the larger context of recovery narratives.

6. Siobhan Reynolds, “Getting Relief in Wartime: Opioids, Pain Management, and the War on Drugs”: The second guest post of Reynolds’ series.

5. Joe Spillane, “The Stoned Ages”: This post from September, 2011, announced the forthcoming History Channel documentary The Stoned Ages, which featured several regular Points contributors.  A more substantive follow-up post is in the Points top twenty.

4. Eoin Cannon, “Clinical Sentiments, Part 2: Shane MacGowan”: In this April, 2011 post Cannon reflects on the best of what songwriters can do with addiction: “not scorning the very real felt experiences that addicts report, but instead making meaning from the tense interpenetrations of artistic and therapeutic purposes.”

3. Ron Roizen, “Washington State’s Proposition 1183: Consumer Convenience or Culture and History?”: This the the post that started Ron’s series on Prop. 1183.  Timely and interesting when it appeared in October, 2011, it is still worth a read!

Prohibition in the Headlines

2. Jason Lantzer, “Burns and Novick’s Prohibtion: Lantzer on Episode Three”: The day after the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary series Prohibition ended on PSB, this concluding commentary by Jason Lantzer began drawing (and still draws) lots of views.  Readers may also wish to check out David Fahey on Episode One and Episode Two, and Frankie Bailey on Episode Two–all of which have substantial readership in their own right.

Which brings us, to channel Casey Kasem, to number one… Continue reading →

Alcohol and Drugs History at the AHA Annual Convention I

Editor’s Note: If you’ve not looked at our banner recently, you may not know that Points readers is an official organ for the Alcohol and Drugs History Society (ADHS), an affiliated organization of the American Historical Association.  That venerable body holds its annual meeting next weekend, and the ADHS is sponsoring two sessions chock full of cutting edge drug and alcohol history.  Mark your calendars for the following:

Friday, Jan. 6, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Parlor G. Rival Notions of Respectability:
Moral Injunction & Commercial Regulation in the Matter of Alcoholic Drinks

Chair and Commentator: Elaine Frantz Parsons, Duquesne University

  • Self Control and Gender Boundaries: The Injunctions of the Irish Catholic Temperance Movement, 1840–1920, Mike McLaughlin, Carleton University
  • Teaching Piety and Temperance to Boys in British Bands of Hope, 1880–1914, Stephanie Olsen, Max Planck Institute for Human Development
  • Controlling the Reputation of Argentine Wine: Winemakers and the Fight against Adulteration, 1890–1914, U. Bajwa, Johns Hopkins University

AHA Chicago, 2012

Saturday, Jan. 7, 9:00–11:00 a.m. Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Parlor G.
The Press and Psychedelia:
Image, Gender, and
Behavior in the United States Since 1945 

Chair and Commentator: David T. Courtwright, University of North Florida

  • Faith—the Anti-Drug: Religion and Recruits in the Battle against Youth Drug Use, Emily Dufton, George Washington University
  • Psychedelic Drugs in the Popular Press in the 1950s and 1960s, Stephen Siff, Miami University of Ohio

 

200 Posts–Another Points Milestone

Not that anyone’s counting, but we’ve just now passed 200 posts for the Points blog.

This is #202, to be Precise

As I noted back in July on the occasion of our 100th post, we’re no match for the production levels of older and more established academic blogs–but we’ll take the excuse to settle back for a bit of self-reflection.  Let’s think a bit about these first 200 posts, and perhaps offer up some New Year’s resolutions to go with them.

If we wander about the tag cloud for a bit, as we did on the occasion of the 100th post, we see that the most popular tags look like this:

  1. Addiction (50 posts)
  2. Alcohol (50 posts)
  3. Policy  (47 posts)
  4. History (45 posts)
  5. Drugs (38 posts)
  6. Popular Culture (35 posts)
  7. Transnational (31 posts)
  8. Research (29 posts)
  9. Drug War (26 posts)
  10. Law (25 posts)

I guess the list isn’t all that surprising–why wouldn’t the blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society feature “Alcohol” “Drugs” and “History” in the top five?  Moreover, the “Addiction” and “Policy” tags at the top of the list reflect another basic fact of this blog–that public policy (see also “law” at #10) and the addiction concept (see also “research” at #8) dominate the posts.  And now, two resolutions: Continue reading →