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STS.062J / 21A.344J Drugs, Politics, and Culture

Spring 2006

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sets seized cocaine ablaze.Cocaine seized aboard The Macel ship in December 2001 totaled 9,291 kilograms. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration set the cocaine ablaze to ensure the drug never reached the street. (Image courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.)

Course Highlights

This course features exemplary student papers and a detailed description of the assignments. A partial set of lecture notes is also available.

Course Description

This class examines the relationship between a number of mind-altering substances and cultural processes. We look at the relationship between drugs and such phenomena as poverty, religion, technology, inter-generational conflict, colonialism, and global capitalism. We read about the physiological and psychological effects of these substances -- ranging from alcohol to LSD, cocaine and ecstasy -- and ask why different societies prohibit and sanction different drugs. We examine the use of mind-altering substances in a number of "traditional" societies, and follow the development of a global trade in such substances as sugar, coffee, tea, nicotine, cocaine, and marijuana concurrent with the evolution of global capitalism. We look at the use of LSD as a mind-control substance by the CIA and as a mind-altering substance in the 1960's counter-culture, and we look at the rise of Prozac® and Viagra® as popular, if controversial, pharmaceutical products in recent years. Finally, we evaluate America's current drug laws.



Syllabus

Course Description

This class examines the relationship between a number of mind-altering substances and cultural processes. We look at the relationship between drugs and such phenomena as poverty, religion, technology, inter-generational conflict, colonialism, and global capitalism. We read about the physiological and psychological effects of these substances -- ranging from alcohol to LSD, cocaine and ecstasy -- and ask why different societies prohibit and sanction different drugs. We examine the use of mind-altering substances in a number of "traditional" societies, and follow the development of a global trade in such substances as sugar, coffee, tea, nicotine, cocaine, and marijuana concurrent with the evolution of global capitalism. We look at the use of LSD as a mind-control substance by the CIA and as a mind-altering substance in the 1960's counter-culture, and we look at the rise of Prozac® and Viagra® as popular, if controversial, pharmaceutical products in recent years. Finally, we evaluate America's current drug laws.



Course Requirements

Students are required to write one short paper (6-7 pages) and one longer paper (10 pages). The second paper topic is chosen by the student in consultation with the professor or teaching assistant. There will also be two short quizzes. Class discussion is very important to the success of this course, so it is important to do the reading before class. Attendance at class is expected. There will be no final exam.



Grading

The final grade is calculated as follows:


ACTIVITIESPERCENTAGES
First Paper20%
Second Paper30%
First Quiz15%
Second Quiz15%
Participation20%




Calendar

The table below provides information about the course's lecture (L) and quiz (Q) sessions.


ses #TOPICSkEY dATES
L1Introduction
L2Some Preliminary Ideas
L3Alcohol in the U.S.

Movie: Reefer Madness
L4Alcohol Across Cultures

Guest Speaker: Alcoholics Anonymous
L5"Primitive" Drugs

Documentary: The Peyote Road
L6Drugs and American Counterculture

Movie: Timothy Leary is Dead
L7Cocaine, Latin America and GlobalizationFirst paper due
L8Cocaine Consumption
Q1Quiz 1
L9Crack Dealers

Guest Speakers
L10The War on Drugs
L11The War on Drugs (cont.)
L12Modern Pharmaceuticals: Sex
Q2Quiz 2
L13Modern Pharmaceuticals: Prozac®

Documentary: Happy Valley
L14Big PharmaSecond paper due




Readings

Amazon logo When you click the Amazon logo to the left of any citation and purchase the book (or other media) from Amazon.com, MIT OpenCourseWare will receive up to 10% of this purchase and any other purchases you make during that visit. This will not increase the cost of your purchase. Links provided are to the US Amazon site, but you can also support OCW through Amazon sites in other regions. Learn more.

 

This section contains the readings for the course. Since participation counts as 20% towards a student's grade, students are expected to complete the readings for each session before class.



Books

Amazon logo Weil, Andrew, and Winifred Rosen. From Chocolate to Morphine. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1976. ISBN: 9780618483792.

Amazon logo Myerhoff, Barbara. Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976. ISBN: 9780801491375.

Amazon logo Bourgois, Philippe. In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780521574600.

Amazon logo Slater, Lauren. Prozac® Diary. New York, NY: Penguin, 1998. ISBN: 9780140263947.

Amazon logo Angell, Marcia. The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What to do about it. New York, NY: Random House, 2004. ISBN: 9780375508462.



Recommended Readings

Amazon logo Kuhn, Cynthia, Scott Swartzwelder, and Wilkie Wilson. Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs From Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York, NY: Norton, 1998. ISBN: 9780393317329.

Amazon logo Inciardi, James, and Karen McElrath, eds. The American Drug Scene: An Anthology. 3rd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury, 2000. ISBN: 9781891487361.

Amazon logo Goode, Erich. Drugs in American Society. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004. ISBN: 9780072874983.

Go Ask Alice.



Readings by Session

The table below provides information about the course's lecture (L) and quiz (Q) sessions.

ses #TOPICSREADINGS
L1Introduction
L2Some Preliminary IdeasWeil, and Rosen. From Chocolate to Morphine. pp. 9-35 and 161-182.

Amazon logo Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants. New York, NY: Vintage, 1993, pp. 15-84 and 167-187. ISBN: 9780679744382.

Becker, Howard. "Becoming a Marihuana User." American Journal of Sociology 59 (1953): 235-242.

Amazon logo Zailkas, Koren. "First Taste." From Her Smashed: Story of a Drunken Childhood. New York, NY: Viking, 2005, pp. 3-25. ISBN: 9780670033768.

Amazon logo Lenson, David. "Preface," and "User Construction." In On Drugs. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Press, 1995, pp. ix-xx and 55-64. ISBN: 9780816627103.
L3Alcohol in the U.S.

Movie: Reefer Madness
Amazon logo Kuhn, Cynthia, Scott Swartzwelder, and Wilkie Wilson. "Alcohol." In Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs From Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1998, pp. 29-54. ISBN: 9780393045888.

Amazon logo Lender, Mark, and James Martin. Drinking in America: A History. New York, NY: Free Press, 1987, pp. 41-86, 102-168, and 182-191. ISBN: 9780029185704.

Wechsler, Henry. "Health and Behavioral Consequences of Binge Drinking in College." Journal of the American Medical Association 272, no. 21 (1994): 1672-1676.

Amazon logo Seaman, Barrett. "The Campus Alcohol Crisis," and "What's the Right Drinking Age?" Chapters 5 and 11 in Binge: What your College Student won't Tell you: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess. Hoboken, NJ: Jonathan Wiley, 2005. ISBN: 9780471491194.

Amazon logo Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants. New York, NY: Vintage, 1993, pp. 147-166. ISBN: 9780679744382.
L4Alcohol Across Cultures

Guest Speaker: Alcoholics Anonymous
Mandelbaum, David. "Alcohol and Culture." Current Anthropology 6, no. 3 (1965): 281-288.

Leacock, Seth. "Ceremonial Drinking in an Afro-Brazilian Cult." American Anthropologist 66, no. 2 (1964): 344-354.

Amazon logo Scully, Pamela. "Liquor and Labor in the Western Cape, 1870-1900." In Liquor and Labor in Southern Africa. Edited by Jonathan Crush and Charles Ambler. Athens, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1992, pp. 56-77. ISBN: 9780821410271.

Amazon logo Burovoy, Amy. The Too-Good Wife: Alcohol, Codependency, and the Politics of Nurturance in Postwar Japan. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005, pp. 1-15, and 42-66. ISBN: 9780520244528.

Spicer, Paul. "Toward a (Dys)functional Anthropology of Drinking: Ambivalence and the American Indian Experience with Alcohol." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 11, no. 3 (1993): 306-323.

Amazon logo Erdrich, Louise. "Foreword." In The Broken Cord. Edited by Michael Dorris. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1989, pp. xi-xx. ISBN: 9780060160715.
L5"Primitive" Drugs

Documentary: The Peyote Road
Myerhoff, Barbara. Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974.

Calabrese, Joseph. "The Supreme Court Versus Peyote: Consciousness, Alteration, Cultural Psychiatry and the Dilemma of Contemporary Subcultures." Anthropology of Consciousness 12, no. 2 (2001): 4-19.
L6Drugs and American Counterculture

Movie: Timothy Leary is Dead
Amazon logo Stevens, Jay. Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1988, pp. 136-170 and 291-319. ISBN: 9780060971724.

Amazon logo Eisner, Bruce. "Dazed in the Desert at the End of Time." In Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. Edited by Charles Hayes. New York, NY: Penguin, 2000, pp. 78-85. ISBN: 9780140195743.

Amazon logo Collin, Matthew. "The Chemical Generation." Chapter 8 in Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House. London, UK: Serpent's Tail, 1998, pp. 267-316. ISBN: 9781852426040.

Amazon logo Lenson, David. "Acid Metaphysics." In On Drugs. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Press, 1995, pp. 143-158. ISBN: 9780816627103.
L7Cocaine, Latin America and GlobalizationAmazon logo Morales, Edmundo. Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1989, pp. 13-24, 67-93, and 121-158. ISBN: 9780816510665.

Amazon logo Roldan, Mary. "Columbia: Cocaine and the 'Miracle' of Modernity in Medellin." In Cocaine: Global Histories. Edited by Paul Gootenberg. New York, NY: Routledge Press, 1999, pp. 165-182. ISBN: 9780415220019.

Amazon logo Taussig, Michael. My Cocaine Museum. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004, pp. 13-20. ISBN: 9780226790084.
L8Cocaine ConsumptionAmazon logo Freud, Sigmund. "On Coca." Reprinted in White Lines: Writers on Cocaine. Edited by Stephen Hyde and Geno Zanetti. New York, NY: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002, pp. 26-49. ISBN: 9781560253785.

Amazon logo Lenson, David. "Blow Money: Cocaine, Currency and Consumerism." In On Drugs. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Press, 1995, pp.173-178. ISBN: 9780816627103.

Bourgois, Philippe. Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996, introduction and chapters 1-2.
Q1Quiz 1
L9Crack Dealers

Guest Speakers
Finish Bourgois.
L10The War on DrugsOffice of National Drug Control Policy

Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Swiss Drugs Policy (undated). (skim.)

Musto, David F. "Opium, Cocaine and Marijuana in American History." Scientific American (1991): 21-33.

Amazon logo Booth, Martin. "The Fantasy Traders." In Opium: A History by Martin Booth. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 1998, pp. 108-139. ISBN: 9780312186432.

Amazon logo Risen, James. "Losing Afghanistan." Chapter 7 in State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. New York, NY: Free Press, 2006, pp. 149-172. ISBN: 9780743270663.

Amazon logo Schlosser, Eric. "Reefer Madness." Chapter 1 in Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American black market. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2003, pp. 11-74. ISBN: 9780618334667.
L11The War on Drugs (cont.)Amazon logo Bertram, Eve, Morris Blachman, Kenneth Sharpe, and Peter Andreas. "Three Fatal Flaws in the War on Drugs." In Drug War Politics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996, pp.9-31. ISBN: 9780520203099.

Amazon logo Marez, Curtis. "Introduction." In Drug Wars: The Political Economy of Narcotics. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2004, pp. 1-31. ISBN: 9780816640591.

Shenk, Joshua Wolf. "America's Altered States." Harper's, May 1999, 38-52.

Amazon logo Lenson, David. "Pharmaka and Pharmakos," and "Toward a Diversity of Consciousness." In On Drugs. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Press, 1995, pp.7-24 and 189-201. ISBN: 9780816627103.
L12Modern Pharmaceuticals: SexAmazon logo Tone, Andrea. Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2001, chapters 4 (optional), 10, and epilogue, pp. 67-87, 233-260, and 285-292. ISBN: 9780809038176.

Amazon logo Loe, Meika. The Rise of Viagra®: How the Little Blue Pill Changed Sex in America. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2004, chapters 1, 4, and 6, pp. 7-28, 95-124, and 167-182. ISBN: 9780814752005.

Silverstein, Ken. "Millions for Viagra®, Pennies for the Poor." The Nation, July 19, 1999, 13-19.
Q2Quiz 2
L13Modern Pharmaceuticals: Prozac®

Documentary: Happy Valley
Kramer, Peter. "The Message in the Capsule." In Listening to Prozac®: A Psychiatrist Explores Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of the Self. New York, NY: Viking, 1993.

Slater, Lauren. Prozac® Diary.
L14Big PharmaAngell, Marcia. The Truth About the Drug Companies.




Lecture Notes

The table below provides information about the course's lecture (L) and quiz (Q) sessions. A partial set of lecture notes is available.


ses #TOPICS
L1Introduction
L2Some Preliminary Ideas
L3Alcohol in the U.S. (PDF)

Movie: Reefer Madness
L4Alcohol Across Cultures (PDF)

Guest Speaker: Alcoholics Anonymous
L5"Primitive" Drugs (PDF)

Documentary: The Peyote Road
L6Drugs and American Counterculture (PDF)

Movie: Timothy Leary is Dead
L7Cocaine, Latin America and Globalization (PDF)
L8Cocaine Consumption
Q1Quiz 1
L9Crack Dealers

Guest Speakers
L10The War on Drugs (PDF)
L11The War on Drugs (cont.)
L12Modern Pharmaceuticals: Sex (PDF)
Q2Quiz 2
L13Modern Pharmaceuticals: Prozac® (PDF)

Documentary: Happy Valley
L14Big Pharma (PDF)




Assignments

Students are required to write one short paper and one longer paper in the course. Students select from a list of topics for the first paper. The second paper topic is chosen by the student in consultation with the professor or teaching assistant.



First Paper Topics

Write about 6 double-spaced pages on one of the following questions:

  1. Would we be better off without alcohol?
  2. What makes for an unhealthy relationship with a substance?
  3. How has capitalism changed patterns of drug use?
  4. The anthropologist Marlene Dobkin de Rios writes: "the sacred and reverent utilization of psychoactive substances among tribal peoples has been transformed by Western industrial societies into a profaned and pathological phenomenon." Comparing what you have read and heard of hallucinogenic drug use in "primitive" societies and in the U.S., do you agree with de Rios that the latter has been unhealthy and dysfunctional where the former was not?


Exemplary Student Papers

The list below are second paper submissions. All papers appear courtesy of the students named and are used with permission.


PAPER TOPICSAUTHORS
"Why in Baseball is Using Steroids Considered Cheating?" (PDF)Brian Chase
"How to Improve the National Drug Control Strategy to Win the War on Drugs" (PDF)Anonymous
"Methamphetamine: Dangerous Drug Craze and Toxic Pollutant" (PDF)Anonymous
"Truth or DARE?" (PDF)Paresh Agarwal
"Comparison of Exchange Students' Views of the Drinking Culture of MIT and Cambridge" (PDF)Amy Wu
"Emergency Contraception and Refusal Clauses: A Threat to Women" (PDF)Francesca Bartolomey
"Rights of Pharmacists versus the Rights of Women: The Morning-After Pill" (PDF)Melissa Tanner
"The Cocaine Sentencing Disparity" (PDF)David Levenson
"Is Taking Ritalin Cheating?" (PDF)Matt Angle
"Beavers and Prozac®: Antidepressants at MIT" (PDF)Analucia Berry
"Speed Culture in the Digital Generation" (PDF)Ona Kondrotas




Exams

This section contains the quizzes for the course. Each quiz counts as 15% towards a student's final grade.

Quiz 1 (PDF)
Quiz 2 (PDF)




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