The League of Nations Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, created in 1920, culminated almost eight decades of political turmoil over opium trafficking, which was by far the largest state-backed drug trade in the age of empire. Opponents of opium had long struggled to rein in the profitable drug. Opium's Long Shadow shows how diverse local protests crossed imperial, national, and colonial boundaries to gain traction globally and harness public opinion as a moral deterrent in international politics after World War I.
Steffen Rimner traces the far-flung itineraries and trenchant arguments of reformers-significantly, feminists and journalists-who viewed opium addiction as a root cause of poverty, famine, "white slavery," and moral degradation. These activists targeted the international reputation of drug-trading governments, first and foremost Great Britain, British India, and Japan, becoming pioneers of the global political tactic we today call naming and shaming. But rather than taking sole responsibility for their own behavior, states in turn appropriated anti-drug criticism to shame fellow sovereigns around the globe. Consequently, participation in drug control became a prerequisite for membership in the twentieth-century international community. Rimner relates how an aggressive embrace of anti-drug politics earned China and other Asian states new influence on the world stage.
The link between drug control and international legitimacy has endured. Amid fierce contemporary debate over the wisdom of narcotics policies, the 100-year-old moral consensus Rimner describes remains a backbone of the international order.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 384
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm
In a work of great brilliance and erudition, Steffen Rimner shows himself to be a complete historian: polyglot and a master of a vast range of sources, a teller of stories and an acute analyst of power and culture. Never has global opium received a more nuanced treatment.--J rgen Osterhammel, author of The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century
As this fascinating and deeply researched study reveals, the struggle against opium was driven by a broad coalition of actors hailing from Europe, the United States, and Asia. In a truly transnational history of the fight against opium, Rimner shows the ultimate effectiveness of the international coalition despite many actors' pursuit of stubbornly local agendas.--Sebastian Conrad, author of What Is Global History?
There has as yet been no study that uses opium as a means of exploring the complex questions of identity, sovereignty, and boundaries in Asia in a time of globalization. The distinctive and sophisticated argument of Opium's Long Shadow gives us a new approach to understanding the formation of international society.--Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945
This wonderful book provides us with an excellent overview of local protests against opium trafficking across national boundaries as well as revealing much about the dynamics of drug-trading governments whom they shamed. Rimner effectively integrates the Japanese past, as well as that of other Asian states, into the context of global history.--Haneda Masashi, author of Toward Creation of a New World History