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Opium evil or opium essential? The geopolitics of drug control from 1909-1961

Thorogood, Joe; (2018) Opium evil or opium essential? The geopolitics of drug control from 1909-1961. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the international narcotics trade from 1909-1961. The focus is on the United States’ role in shaping the international drug machinery at both the League of Nations and United Nations. Its original contribution is threefold. First, it uses critical geopolitical theory to provide a diplomatic history that does not solely rely on the accounts of important diplomats. It expands the focus to include American discourses about narcotics, and how these helped the US develop a geonarcotic subjectivity of a victim of, and warrior against, the opium evil. Second, it supplements this traditional geopolitical analysis with a materialist analysis of the narcotics themselves. It uses assemblage theory to circumvent the problematic conceptualisation of narcotics as either legal or illegal and highlight the capacities of narcotics, specifically their diplomatic uses. Third, it offers an original empirical account of the heretofore unexamined Opium Determination Programme that the United Nations and the US ran from the mid-1940s to 1960s. Finally, it provides a novel methodological way of studying historical, geopolitical objects by focussing on the technical documents that were produced about them. Ultimately, it provides geographers with conceptual and methodological tools that shift the focus from studying high ranking, plenipotentiary delegates to the objects that they try to regulate. By defining objects by their capacities and interactions in assemblages, rather than as legal or illegal commodities, we can appreciate the multiple ways they help or hinder diplomatic progress.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Opium evil or opium essential? The geopolitics of drug control from 1909-1961
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054817
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