Drugs in Global History

3559-103:
Discipline: History
Instructor: Wagner
Credits: 3



Field Work: Day 2 - Friday, 5 February | China Download Syllabus

The demand for mindaltering drugs has a significant impact in developing countries that supply most of the world’s supply of coca and opium – the raw material for cocaine and heroin. While the illegal narcotics business has a mixed impact on their economies, international efforts to control the supply of illegal drugs have contributed significantly to weak governance, violent conflict, environmental degradation and the exacerbated spread of HIV/AIDS.

The course has four main components. First, the class surveys of the role of plant-based narcotics in history, science and culture. Second, we will study the evolution of the drug trade and focus on controversies surrounding the prohibition of selected drugs from the 15th c. to the 19th c. Third, the course traces the evolution of the illicit drug economy in response to the international drug control system from the beginning of the 20th Century until the present.  Finally, we will look at the implications of the illicit drug economy for development in selected countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We will analyze the explanations by the international control regime as well as the perceptions of governments and civil society in these countries.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 2 - Friday, 5 February

Opium production, trade and prohibition have played a major role in Chinese history, society, economy and politics since colonial times. This field lab helps students better understand and compare the link between drugs and imperialism with other countries on the voyage. The visit of the History Museum in Hong Kong allows them to better understand the Chinese perspective of role of narcotics. Students test their knowledge acquired in the classroom and during their observations in the History Museum in a seminar lead by Prof. Cheung, one of the leading experts in the field of the evolution of drug policy at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. The seminar will help students to better understand the changing role of the government in rehabilitation and law enforcement. Field lab attendance is mandatory for all students enrolled in this course. Do not book individual travel plans or a Semester at Sea sponsored trip on the day of your field lab.

Academic Objectives:
1. The China Country Study in the classroom has introduced students to major issues in drug production and trade in China and readings and discussion in the classroom have familiarized students with major issues in drug rehabilitation in Hong Kong.
2. The visit of the History Museum in Hong Kong allows them to better understand the Opium Wars of the 19th century from the Chinese perspective and compare links between drugs and imperialism with other countries on the voyage.
3. Students have prepared questions for the seminar with one of the leading experts in the field of the evolution of drug policy in China, Prof. Y. Cheung, Chairman of the Sociology Department, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.