HC231H - History of the Latin American Drug Trade

Professor: Stephen Andes

4.00 credits

  • CRN 35903: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00-5:20pm @ CHA 201

This course is designed to be an interdisciplinary seminar on the modern history of drugs. We will begin our study with an overview of the Mexican drug trade, but then quickly provide a larger historical context starting in early modern Europe, moving through the nineteenth century, then on to the twentieth and the increase in prohibitions of psychoactive agents by nation states.  We will show how drugs are basically commodities, bought and sold for economic purposes. Through historical writing, ethnographies, popular music, and film this course examines the intersections between globalization and the drug trade, focused especially on the Americas. The course will spend quite a bit of time looking at Mexico’s current drug culture and its political, cultural, and social ramifications for North, Central, and South America. Moreover, drugs are a social and cultural product, meaning that they are constructed as “bad” or “good” based on social and cultural perspectives, and not merely or exclusively on inherent characteristics.  We will analyze the contested and constructed meanings of drugs within a transnational context. Drugs, therefore, become a way to investigate world history as the meaning and importance of certain substances change over time.