When I think about the term “miscarriage of justice,” I think about the obvious ones. A defendant is convicted of a crime that they didn’t actually commit, a police officer uses excessive force, official incompetence allows someone who has committed a crime to walk away from legal consequences, “on a technicality.” Less obvious but also significant is the role of undue influence and corruption as individuals with money and power who commit crimes frequently overwhelm the criminal justice system or avoid consequences altogether.
Month: April 2023
“In the footsteps of the poppy”: a new virtual exhibition by the National Pharmaceutical Museum
The Netherlands’ Nationaal Farmaceutisch Museum has launched their virtual exhibition on the history of opium and opiates curated by digital archivist Rimke van der Bij in partnership with experienced academics in the histories of drugs and pharmaceuticals, Toine Pieters and Stephen Snelders.
An ‘Opium Zone’ From Assam to Yunnan: Opium Trade, Imperial Interests and Politics of Control in a Frontier Landscape
A careful examination of the epigraphic and literary sources, including accounts left by early European travellers to Assam like Tavernier, Bernier, Manucci and Glanius, speak of Assam as a very fertile country with trading links across Burma into China. Marketable commodities were exported not only to the neighbouring provinces but also to adjacent countries; Burma, Tibet, China- by the mountain passes, land and water routes. Indeed, it was the lucrative trade with Tibet and China passing through Assam that was a vital factor in efforts of the Turko-Afghan kings and the Tai-Shans to capture the Brahmaputra valley.
Colonial reports foreshadow the growing importance of the region as central to the Imperial strategy of opening up communications. Cold statistics and correspondence from the personal papers of leading British firms of the time, Jardine Matheson and Baring Brothers, and debates in the British press and parliament reveal how the issue of opening up of trade with China was intensely pursued. Following the opium imbroglio culminating in the Opium Wars, the colonial power was on the lookout for new routes. The opium trade had grown fundamental to Britain’s economic framework to be ignored/abandoned. So, how did Assam fit into the power play of the politics of trade and expansion? In opium, they found a plausible approach. Opium was all over the frontier. Despite the growth of local poppies in Yunnan, the ‘Chinamen’ exhibited preference for the Patna opium for smoking. The ‘Assam’ opium was also much in demand in Yunnan. Opium became a valuable article for exchange and was found to be traded for gold across the frontier.
Introducing ‘The Drug Page’: A New Online Resource and Digital Humanities Project
Editor’s Note: In this latest ‘Points’ blog, Isaac Campos introduces thedrugpage.org which features his new digital humanities project on early twentieth century cannabis discourses in the United States. Below, Campos describes the origins of the research featured on The Drug Page and his intended mission in sharing it. We look forward to watching its evolution!
Twenty years ago, when I was living in Mexico City researching my dissertation, I had a daily routine. I’d spend the first part of the day, roughly from 9-3, at one of the major historical archives. Then I’d take the subway downtown to the Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library. After a rejuvenating cup of coffee nearby, I’d go into the library’s dimly-lit, cavernous research room to pore over old newspapers. That is, the original, printed copies from a century ago. Each of the desks was equipped with a big wooden stand where the ample bound volumes could be safely opened to reveal their weathered old pages. I can still hear the sound of pages turning backed by the echoes from the teeming city. I did that for two hours every afternoon. I turned a lot of pages at the Lerdo Library that year.
Historical Hangovers: Picturing the Drunken Woman from the Nineteenth Century to the Present.
April sees the return of the Grand National and the British media are always hungry to report on a particular spectacle – Ladies Day. For years, the British tabloids such as The Daily Mail have focused primarily on the behaviour of Aintree Races’ female attendees, tapping into negative stereotypes associated with the recreation of women from predominantly working-class areas. In recent years, the tireless shaming of Liverpudlian racegoers has come under scrutiny for its sexist and classist sentiment. But the ridicule of the publicly intoxicated woman is nothing new. The nineteenth century ‘drink question’ bore a wealth of material culture portraying drunk women as especially deviant, and researchers have noted that the Victorian temperance movement has had a lasting impact on the way in which we think about the relationship between drunkenness, gender, and class.
Brenda Dean Paul: Morphia, Camels, Lipstick and Chiffon Knickers
It is possible to read the life of Brenda Dean Paul in a variety of ways. While Elliott Hicks in a recent article focuses very largely on class relationships in interwar Britain, this short piece concentrates more on issues with a specific connection to the drug policy context and to the development in Britain of social modernism. These lines of inquiry are of course linked to social class but cannot be ‘read off’ from class positions.
By the term social modernism, I am referring to lifestyle practices associated with modernism in the arts and literature, alongside which it crossed the English channel in the interwar years. Brenda Dean Paul belonged, largely through the influence of her mother Irene Poldowski, to a rich and complex European modernist network. The lifestyle practices to which I refer would include divorce, bisexuality and same sex relationships, travel, bohemianism, liberal views of the proper relations obtaining between parents and children, the frequenting of nightclubs and so on. Although modernism has frequently been associated with a disdain for popular culture, it is noteworthy that jazz music and jazz modes of dancing were also part of this mix and would lead some of its adherents into the politics of race in the United States. Social modernism was also closely linked to experimentation with drugs.