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Professor Jim Mills


Personal statement

Research summary

Professor Mills teaches and researches in two subject areas, the social history of drugs and narcotics and the social history of health and medicine in the British empire. He has previously published on psychiatric institutions and encounters in colonial India, and on the history of cannabis in Britain and its empire. He is currently writing the history of cocaine consumption and control in Asia between 1900 and 1945.


Professional Memberships and Activities

He is Chair of the the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme Panel and a member of the Wellcome Trust's Expert Review Group.  He served as Reviews Editor of the Social History of Medicine journal between 2005 and 2008, and is currently a member of the Alcohol and Drugs in History Society's Executive Council and a member of the editorial committee of the Drugs and Alcohol: Contested Histories series published by Northern Illinois University Press.  He regularly contributes to historical debate in the media.  For example see:


Research student supervision

Professor Mills supervises research in all aspects of the social history of drugs and intoxicants, and the history of medicine and health in colonial contexts.  Current and recent students include:

Chris Cavin, 'Intoxication and the Indian Colonial Military: Drugs consumption and control in the Indian Army, 1857-1919’.  October 2014, funded by ESRC doctoral studentship, ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

Andrew Glen, ‘Britain, Empire and Opium:  Reassessing official British attitudes towards Asian opium consumption in the late nineteenth century’.  October 2014, funded by AHRC doctoral studentship, AHRC Doctoral Programme Scotland.

Simon Walker, ‘Medicalizing the Military: The British soldier and modern medicine, 1853 – 1918. October 2014, funded by ESRC doctoral studentship, ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.October 2014.

Thora Hands, ‘Reframing Drink and the Victorians: The Consumption of Alcohol in Britain 1869-1914’.  October 2012, funded by Wellcome Trust doctoral studentship (WT099357MA).

Luke Gibbon, 'Governing Drugs in a Global Context: The League of Nations, 1919-1939’.  Doctorate awarded May 2014, funded by Wellcome Trust PhD studentship (WT085432/Z).

Chris Gill, ‘The Civil Veterinary Departments of British India 1876-1947: Science, medicine, power and nature in a colonial context’. Second supervisor was Ms Jan Usher, Head of Official Publications at the National Library of Scotland.  Doctorate awarded April 2013, funded by AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA08/830).

Leanne Dunlop, ‘Healthy or Hungry 30s? Assessing lifecourses in inter-war Glasgow’. Doctorate awarded May 2012, funded by ESRC Quota Award (PTA-031-2006-00201).

Emma Reilly, ‘From Citizen to Soldier: The British military body in the Second World War’.  Doctorate awarded August 2010, funded by University of Strathclyde scholarship.


Key publications

Cannabis Nation: Control and consumption in Britain, c. 1928-2008, (Oxford University Press Oxford 2012).  For reviews see

Drugs and Empires: Essays in modern imperialism and intoxication, (Palgrave Macmillan 2007). Edited with Patricia Barton.

Cannabis Britannica: a social and political history of cannabis and British government, 1800-1928 (Oxford University Press Oxford 2005).

Confronting the Body: The politics of physicality in colonial and post-colonial India, (Anthem South Asian Studies Series London 2004). Edited with Satadru Sen.

Madness, Cannabis and Colonialism: the 'native only' lunatic asylums of British India , 1857 to 1900, (Palgrave Basingstoke 2000).


Decolonising drugs in Asia : the case of cocaine in colonial India
Mills James
Third World Quarterly, (2017)
Colonising cannabis : Medication, taxation, intoxication and oblivion, c. 1839-1955
Mills James
Locating the Medical in Histories of 19th and 20th Century South AsiaLocating the Medical in Histories of 19th and 20th Century South Asia, (2017)
The IHO as actor : the case of cannabis and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961
Mills James H.
Hygiea Internationalis Vol 13, pp. 95-115, (2016)
Cocaine and the British Empire : the drug and the diplomats at the Hague Opium Conference, 1911–12
Mills James
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History Vol 42, pp. 400-419, (2014)
Cannabis Nation : Control and Consumption in Britain, 1928-2008
Mills James
‘Left in the hands of subordinates’: medicine, language and power in the colonial medical institutions of Egypt and India
Mills James
Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates, and Public Health Practice, 1850-1960Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates, and Public Health Practice, 1850-1960, (2011)

more publications


Christopher Cavin - The Charles Henry Brent Papers and the Rise of International Drug Control Policy
Mills, James (Co-investigator)
Period 01-May-2017 - 31-Jul-2017
The Asian Cocaine Crisis: Pharmaceuticals consumers and control in South & East Asia, c 1900-1945
Mills, James (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Sep-2016 - 31-Aug-2020
上海倡议 The Shanghai Initiative: Medical Humanities futures in the UK and Asia
Mills, James (Principal Investigator)
Period 02-Jan-2017 - 31-Aug-2018
Drugs and drink in Asia: New perspectives from history
Mills, James (Principal Investigator)
Period 22-Jun-2012 - 24-Jun-2012
International Health Organizations and the history of health and medicine
Mills, James (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2013 - 31-Mar-2014
AHRC - Doctoral Training Partnership Scotland | Glen, Andrew
Mills, James (Principal Investigator) Barton, Patricia (Co-investigator) Glen, Andrew (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2014 - 01-Oct-2017

more projects