The Birth of Cocaine: A Transnational History, 1850-1975


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study is a new archivally-based history of the Andean drug cocaine, a scholarly book for a broad audience. It traces cocaine's global transformations over three long periods: The creation of cocaine as a modern medical commodity (1850-1910); its decline as a legitimate commercial drug (1910-45); and finally, cocaine's entry into a menacing underground world drug trade (1945-75). Set in the drug's broadest contexts, the study focuses on the historically-defining transnational axis between the United States (cocaine's key consuming and regulating culture) and coca-rich eastern Peru (the drug's long site of germination). Breaking ground empirically, this study also innovates by bringing novel conceptual concerns from commodity, cultural and international history into the study of drugs.