Drugs and Society

Dangerous tastes: spices, drugs and colonial wars 

It started with pepper and nutmeg and expanded to opium, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, coffee, and alcohol. The pursuit of spices, aromatics, and intoxicants to please, to stimulate, to benumb transformed the history of food, work and global trade from the 15th C with the emergence of European powers on the global scene. Starting from the Opium wars in this course we will learn how the fascinating and dangerous journey of drugs by road and by sea routes dovetailed with the expansion of capitalism and subjugation of people through colonialism, slavery and indentured labour. The course asks you to see the cultures and politics of consumption not as a matter of national or domestic policy but through global flows of people and commodities.