History Cannabis: Global Histories

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Global Histories of Drugs: Why, and what next?

6 October 2021

British Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and via Zoom

To mark the launch of 'Cannabis: Global Histories' by MIT Press in the Autumn of 2021, this event gathered the editors and authors together with discussants from across the field to reflect on the concepts behind the collection.  Since the publication of 'Cocaine: Global Histories', edited by Paul Gootenberg and published in 1999, there have been two decades of fresh research into the histories of psychoactive substances, and multiple new directions taken by those thinking about globalisation and its pasts.  With the forthcoming publication in the Historical Journal of a special edition devoted to the theme 'Intoxicants and Early Modern European Globalization' also looming, there seems to be no better time to consider what happens when notions of 'intoxication', the 'psychoactive' and 'the global' are brought together.

Among the questions considered:

1. Why think about the histories of intoxicants and psychoactive substances on a global scale?

2. In what ways does research into such substances provide novel perspectives on globalisation and related processes?

3. How do national, transnational, international and global histories of these substances relate to one another?

4. What next for global histories of intoxicants and psychoactive substances?


Discussants included;

Dr Paul Dimeo (University of Stirling), author of 'A History of Drug Use in Sport: 1876 - 1976' (Routledge 2007).

Dr Anna Greenwood (University of Nottingham), Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project ''Chemists to the Nation, Pharmacy to the World': Exploring the Global Dimensions of British Healthcare and Beauty with Boots the Chemists, 1919-1980' (2021-2025).

Dr Gagan Sood, (London School of Economics), Co-Editor of 'The Journal of Global History'.

Professor Phil Withington (University of Sheffield), Principal Investigator on the HERA funded project 'Intoxicating Spaces: The Impact of New Intoxicants on Urban Spaces in Europe, 1600–1850' (2019-2021).

The event was organised by the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The generous support of the Wellcome Trust is gratefully acknowledged by all those who have participated in this project; www.wellcome.ac.uk

A recording of the event can be viewed here.


Other News

Following on the heels of the April 2018 event, the Wellcome Trust awarded Dr Lucas Richert and Prof Jim Mills £38,700 to carry on and expand upon the work of the Cannabis: Global Histories project. The money has been used to further develop the network and help produce useful knowledge.

The Cannabis: Global Histories web series proved very popular and, of course, there will be more materials in the future. https://pointsadhsblog.wordpress.com/points-library/cannabis-global-histories/ Think about submitting a post or video to Emily Dufton, one of the network’s participants, and also the new Managing Editor of Points.

As for publishing, the MIT Press contracted an edited collection of papers from the first conference in April, 2018. This is a great first step getting the research of the network into wider hands.

In Spring 2019, three Cannabis: Global Histories network participants published their cannabis research in:

  • A special section of Pharmacy in History, the journal of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy
  • Human Rights Legislation and the Medicalization of Cannabis in Canada, ca. 2000–Present, by Matthew DeCloedt
  • Medical Cannabis in Argentina, by Lucía Romer
  • Medicine, Moral Panic, and the International Context of Canadian Cannabis Prohibition, by Michael Couchman

Other network participants and Strathclyde researchers also contributed to the issue. These include: Ved Baruah, Peder Clark, Rachel Meach and Jim Mills.

Watch out for other news about publishing!

Following on from the Glasgow conference, other networking events took place in Shanghai, Washington D.C., as well as Johannesburg.

Plans are in the works to hold panels at future conferences as well as hold follow-up events. Be sure to stay tuned for an announcement about the next Cannabis: Global Histories event, which will be available @drughistory and @StrathCannabis.

For more information, please contact:

Caroline Marley cshhh-admin@strath.ac.uk or Lucas Richert:lrichert@wisc.edu