Editors’ note: Paul Gootenberg’s recent guest post proposing some new directions for research into cocaine’s history generated some very useful comments. Paul replied to these comments in the original post, and we’ve dug them up and posted them here:
Kawaldeep Kour: Thanks Dr. Gootenberg for the illuminating piece. It surely sets as a precedent for educators, academicians and scholars on the underlying need to disseminate research ideas which would not only facilitate greater intellectual engagement with issues you point out but also as you anticipate “fill a few more pieces of the puzzle.”
Paul’s reply: KAWALDEEP—I hope professors openly share their research, their ideas, and questions, as knowledge should be a collective enterprise. But I’m also self interested: writing Andean Cocaine, convinced me that drug history is an exciting and serious field that I want to actively promote. Especially the surprisingly neglected area of Latin American drugs (surprising because of the oversized role of illicit drugs in many Latin American and inter-American contexts today).
Julia: In your post you note that “A more social scientific study than mine might truly analyze these correlations (using price data and critically assessed seizure data) to probe the eternal drug policy chicken-or-egg question: which came first, the dangerous trades or repressive law?” Is that really a chicken-or-egg question? As you say, there is a correlation between global prohibition and illicit activity from prior legal cocaine outlets. Is there really any doubt that it was the act of criminalizing the outlets that made them dangerous? There is a reason why the alcohol industry was dangerous during prohibition but not before or after.