The line-up for the ‘Drugs and Empires’ conference, to be hosted in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde, is now available online. Please see for details. The event, which has received financial support from the British Academy and the Wellcome Trust, is a multi-disciplinary, international meeting with speakers from Asia, Africa and the Americas attending together with those from across the UK. Registration details and travel/accommodation suggestions can also be found on the website. For further information, contact:

Dr James Mills Department of History University of Strathclyde McCance Building, 16 Richmond St Glasgow G1 1XQ, UK [email protected]

Further Details about the Meeting

Speakers Confirmed

Professor M. Emdad ul Haq, Chittagong University, author of Drugs in South Asia, (Macmillan 2000). Dr Amar Farooqui, University of Delhi, author of Smuggling as Subversion, (South Asia Books 1998). Professor William McAllister, Virginia State University, author of Drug Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Routledge 2000) Dr James Mills, University of Strathclyde, author of Madness, Cannabis and Colonialism, (Macmillan 2000). Professor John Richards, Duke University, author of Opium and the British Indian Empire (Modern Asian Studies 2002). Professor William Walker, Florida International University, author of Opium and Foreign Policy, (University of North Carolina Press 1991).


This conference aims for the first time to explore the history of illicit substances in the colonial context. Chief among those substances currently prohibited for general use are opium, cannabis and cocaine. The global traffic in these substances developed and grew largely as a result of modern western colonialism and indeed each first became subject to international regulation during the age of empire. Yet the imperial dimension of the history of these substances remains relatively neglected.

As such key questions remain unanswered. Did the colonial experience of governing societies that used unfamiliar drugs shape approaches adopted at imperial centres in Britain, Europe and America? To what extent did imperial diplomacy influence current laws and treaties? How were perceptions of these drugs formed in the colonies and how did these perceptions shape attitudes elsewhere? The conference therefore invites papers from disciplines such as history, anthropology, political science, geography, economics etc to consider themes that include those listed below.

The conference is keen to include papers from the full range of colonial encounters in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australasia and also to trace impacts in domestic circles in Britain, Europe and the USA.

Themes include

Political The origins of current international treaties on drugs and narcotics in the diplomatic politics of empire. The origins of national policies on drugs etc. in colonial and post-colonial anxieties. The relationship between metropolitan and colonial state approaches to drugs and narcotics.

Cultural The formation of attitudes by colonisers towards substances used by colonized populations. The role of colonial medicine and science in generating information on indigenous drug use. The formulation and representation of data on indigenous drug use by indigenous groups. The transmission of this information from colonial to metropolitan centres

Social The place of narcotic substances in colonised societies. The economics of narcotics production and regulation under colonial rule. Resistance to colonial government of narcotics.

Further Information: drugs.htm