CFP: Psychedelic Capitalism: From Forest Retreat to Fortune 500 and Pharmacies

History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals, the official journal of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy (AIHP), is pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue: “Psychedelic Capitalism: From Forest Retreat to Fortune 500 and Pharmacies.” The issue is anticipated to appear in 2023. Guest editors for the special issue will be Drs. Neşe Devenot and Brian Pace, both of The Ohio State University.

Submission Guidelines

To submit a proposal for the special issue, authors were initially asked to submit a 500-word abstract and 100-word biography to Patrick Walsh (pwalsh3@wisc.edu) by April 4, 2022. However, for guaranteed consideration for the special issue, the preferred deadline is August 15; after August 15, submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. The editors anticipate publication in 2023. The final research papers must range from 6,000–8,000 words in length. Commentaries and discussion pieces, ranging from 1,500–3,000 words, will also be considered. All submissions must conform to HoPP style, available here.

Call for Papers

Buoyed by calls for medical access, social justice, and regulation, psychedelic substances and products are becoming more socially acceptable in various jurisdictions, and support for regulatory changes, in some countries at least, continues to grow. Several estimates suggest that the psychedelic industry may hit roughly $10 billion annually by 2027. Recent academic scholarship germane to psychedelics, meanwhile, is expanding rapidly but has remained largely North America-centric and focused on medico-scientific and socio-political developments rather than the business history. 

The aim of this CFP and special issue is to contribute to critical discussions around relatively underexplored socio-economic, business, and capitalist histories of psychedelics. Such substances, broadly conceived, exist at the intersection of legality and criminality, domestic and transnational markets, medicine and recreation, and scientific study and sensationalism. To build upon recent literature and foster new critical dialogues, we propose a business/economic history approach that connects circuits of psychedelic capitalism to engage with themes of commodification and coercion, as well as the open scientific questions and ongoing struggles in politics and society that will impact psychedelics in the marketplace. 

This special issue of History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals will address some of the following questions: How have these businesses evolved, and who has directed and financed this development? What methods and models are being used in pharmaceutical and recreational enterprises to promote, sell, and/or study the drugs? How has the media participated in selling psychedelics to new consumer markets? Are there parallels between movements of enclosure and the commodification of Indigenous psychedelic medicine and religious traditions? How are Indigenous approaches to psychedelics being appropriated to administer and sell psychedelic services? How will the concept of social justice fare under an increasingly profit-oriented system? What contributes to the belief that psychedelics would be different than any other commodity within capitalism? Are we witnessing the development of new psychedelic empires, and what will the effects of this transformation be? How are mental and public health issues being treated, and what happens to patient-consumers in a legalized personal use market? What are the international effects of a shifting market, and how does legalization, along with a growing gray market, affect issues like access and adherence in the medical marketplace? Given that for-profit healthcare functionally denies healthcare to millions, should psychedelics continue to be touted as a solution to the mental health crisis?

Possible paper topics include:

  • Organizational histories
  • Indigenous appropriation in branding, marketing, and advertising
  • Media representations of psychedelics
  • Government regulation of psychedelic businesses
  • Underground and illegal markets
  • Corporatization, industry, and its impacts
  • Transnational trafficking, regulations and sales
  • Biographies of influential business persons and companies
  • Comparisons of Indigenous modes of psychedelic production and exchange with market proposals
  • The problem of biopiracy and its proposed solutions, including the Nagoya Protocol

We invite submissions that deal with one or more of the above-mentioned topics or other possible topics that focus on the themes of this special issue. We particularly encourage submissions, based on primary and archivally-based research, from an interdisciplinary perspective.

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Claire Davey is a PhD candidate at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. Her PhD research explores UK women’s increasing engagement with sobriety or alcohol-free living, and the growth of female-led online sobriety communities. She is also the Managing Editor of 'Points'.

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