FYS 101 The Global Drug Trade

This course historicizes the role of opium within the global drug trade by tracing the ancient and modern drug cultures of Asia and the Americas. Nineteenth century imperialism is the historic linchpin in creating a drug trade network that impacts our understanding of drug cultures today.

Historical interpretations of and efforts at promoting certain drugs on the one hand and controlling them or others on the other hand have resulted in a series of contradictory historical moments. Historians (and others) have examined these moments from a variety of perspectives and political positions to understand larger historical questions about trade, labor, consumption, and counter-cultures to name but a few. From prohibition to legalization, different historical actors and communities have struggled to understand, analyze and control the impact of drug use and drug cultures.

We will be grounded in historical questions about drug production, use, and trade but will also utilize science faculty to inform our understanding of pharmacology; music, film, and art resources which reflect changes in popular perceptions of drug use, literature which deals with drug use and addiction; and ultimately we will examine how local communities and politics engage with drug problems today: from methadone clinics to the “Drop the Rock” movement to end the perceived draconian Rockefeller drug laws of New York state.