Global Drug Histories Book Launch and Workshop

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To mark the publication of Cannabis: Global Histories by MIT Press in the Autumn of 2021, the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, participated in a trans-Atlantic book launch called “Global Drug Histories: Why and What’s Next?” arranged by volume editors James H. Mills and Lucas Richert, AIHP Historical Director.

Events occurred simultaneously on October 6th at the British Library in London and at the UW School of Pharmacy in Madison, Wisconsin. Editors and authors gathered together with discussants, including Dr. Paul Dimeo, Dr. Anna Greenwood, Dr. Gagan Sood, and Professor Phil Withington to reflect on the concepts behind the collection. With the recent growing interest in these topics, there seems to be no better time to consider what happens when notions of “intoxication,” the “psychoactive,” and “the global” are brought together.

For more information about the Book Launch and to view a recording of the event (video should be available shortly), please visit the Cannabis: Global Histories homepage.

At the conclusion of the symposium in London, Dr. Richert hosted a workshop in Madison titled “Global Drug Histories: Right Now” that allowed early career researchers to discuss their research and writing with established scholars.

Dr. Eron Ackerman, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Albion College, presented research from his recently completed dissertation, “Cannabis and Colonialism in the British Caribbean, 1838–1938.” Taylor Dysart, a doctoral candidate in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, presented her in-progress research about the history of Ayahuasca.

Dr. Pablo F. Gómez (University of Wisconsin–Madison), Dr. James Bradford (Berklee College of Music), and Dr. Richert offered suggestions, critiques, and advice for moving these promising projects forward. Also participating in the workshop were Dr. Alberto Vargas, Associate Director of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Amanda Rose Pratt, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison whose work centers on psychedelic rhetoric.

Ms. Dysart reflected on her experiences, saying, “‘Global Histories of Drugs: Why, and What Next?’ and ‘Global Histories of Drugs: Right Now’ were terrific opportunities to learn about important recent and emerging scholarship in the history of drugs and related fields. I’m grateful for the opportunity to discuss my dissertation with scholars whose work has been so formative for my own.”

Dr. Bradford, author of Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy (Cornell University Press, 2018), said that the events were “an incredible gathering of young scholars in celebration of a monumental contribution to the history of cannabis. The workshop/conference was intellectually robust, constructive, and indicative of the glowing future of the history of drugs and cannabis.”

Ms. Dysart observed that, “our time in Madison was also filled with exciting discussions about how we can share our scholarship with a wider audience, and I’m looking forward to what comes next!”

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