Shanghai University
12-14 June 2019

The 2019 Alcohol and Drugs in History Society conference takes its cue from recent shifts in attitudes towards, and understandings of, intoxicants and psychoactive substances to explore the drivers of change throughout history in ideas about, and actions on, such materials.

Over the last two decades or so physiological models of drug and alcohol use have claimed to provide definitive accounts of the actions of these substances on human bodies, and how they function to literally change our minds.  In much the same period ideas about certain substances, from alcohol to cannabis, have begun to fundamentally shift and with this has come political change as many consumers, scientists, doctors and policy-makers change their minds, even as others refuse to do so.  The conference stops to ask 'haven't we seen this all before'?

After all, experts offering definitive accounts of such substances, vacillating bureaucrats and politicians, unyielding moralists and fickle consumers are all among the figures familiar to historians from other periods and a range of places.  The conference brings together those working in the field to examine the latest research into why ideas, attitudes and approaches towards intoxication and psychoactive substances have changed in historical contexts, and why they have not.  It will also establish how far these historical understandings can provide a clearer sense of just what lies behind practices, perceptions and policies today.

Where and When
For the first time the ADHS will host its conference in Asia, at Shanghai University in China, one hundred and ten years after the Opium Commission in the city that did so much to shape future control regimes.  The event will also mark the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles which saw the establishment of the first permanent international mechanisms for monitoring and making policy on psychoactive and intoxicating substances at the new League of Nations.  The David F. Musto Center for Drugs and National Security Studies at Shanghai University, in partnership with the ADHS and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde, looks forward to welcoming all those conducting research on any aspects of the production, supply, consumption or control of alcohol or drugs in the past, anywhere in the world.The event will take place between 12 and 15 June 2019 at the Baoshan Campus of Shanghai University, at the New Lehu Hotel.  Shanghai Campus Map can be found here.  The formal events will end on Friday 14th with a conference dinner, with delegates travelling home on Saturday, 15th.


Conference Fee
There is no conference fee as the ADHS is keen to control the cost for scholars from around the world of attending its first event in Asia. However, all attending must be registered as members of the ADHS. To join the ADHS, click here.

Accommodation and meals package
The collaboration between Shanghai University and the University of Strathclyde was established in 2012 to encourage the development of Medical Humanities scholarship across academic cultures. It is proud to host this event and has committed significant resources to ensuring its success. We are pleased to offer to all speakers; four nights of accommodation from 11 June 2019, lunches, teas and coffees on each day of the event, and all three conference dinners. If you would prefer to pay for the costs of accommodation and meals the charge will be £350. All resources freed up will be recycled to support travel for postgraduates and early career scholars.

You are required to register for accommodation here 

The conference organisers will provide a letter of support for visa applications.  The information required should be entered on the accommodation form referred to above.  Visa applications are the responsibility of each delegate, please check requirements as soon as possible wih your nearest Chinese visa office.

There is currently no funding available to subsidise the costs of travel to and from the event.

Best value airfares can be tracked here

Taxis to and from Pudong airport cost no more than £40. These can be found on the rank outside arrivals.

Shanghai University has its own Metro station and the fare from Pudong airport is about £1.





'A tea plantation in China with women picking and sifting tea leaves. Gouache painting with oxidization'.  From Wellcome Collection, see