Addicts, Peddlers and Reformers: A Social History of Opium in Assam, 1826–1947

Ved Baruah

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

The thesis offers a social history of opium in colonial Assam by tracing the evolution of representations, perceptions and ideological positions on opium from local, national and transnational perspectives which enables a new mode of reading the province’s specific encounter with colonialism and nationalism. It studies Assam’s history through the prism of opium, particularly the interplay between state and society during the period 1828–1947, and focusses on three groups—addicts, peddlers and reformers—whose interaction defined the terrain of the opium question in order to challenge the economic and nationalist bias in the historiography. It interprets opium as a cultural commodity and social practice and reorients the framework of opium in India from export trade to domestic consumption, using opium addiction in Assam and the global prohibition campaign as the vantage point to explore the interplay between colonial policy, local dissent, nationalism and transnational factors in order to understand the role that opium played in shaping social, cultural and political discourses. The thesis highlights that the opium discourse epitomised the juncture where local phenomenon, national processes and transnational developments overlapped and produced a complex narrative of the intersection of notions of indolence, improvement and industry with modernities, resistance and localisms. As a social biography of opium in colonial Assam, the thesis addresses deficiencies in our understanding of opium in India as well as the wider historiography of opium and enables modes of interpreting Assam’s unique encounter with colonialism and nationalism while also providing a framework to understand the influence of transnational factors in determining local facts. The thesis signals the centrality of transnational perspectives to drug history and is, therefore, both an attempt at recovery of local perspectives and regional specificities in the context of Assam as well as the insertion of locality into the global history of opium.
LanguageEnglish
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
  • Cardiff University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Anagol, Padma, Supervisor, External person
  • Gooptu, Nandini, Advisor, External person
  • Williams, Christopher , Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Jun 2016
Place of PublicationCardiff
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Fingerprint

Opium
social history
addiction
nationalism
colonial age
historiography
India
colonial policy
discourse
history
commodity
modernity
campaign
Colonialism
Historiography
drug
narrative
industry
trend
History

Keywords

  • social history
  • South Asia
  • drug history
  • transnational history
  • public health
  • British Empire
  • India
  • colonial India
  • medicine
  • colonial society
  • colonial south Asia
  • royal commission on opium
  • opium
  • Asia
  • material culture
  • subaltern studies

Cite this

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title = "Addicts, Peddlers and Reformers: A Social History of Opium in Assam, 1826–1947",
abstract = "The thesis offers a social history of opium in colonial Assam by tracing the evolution of representations, perceptions and ideological positions on opium from local, national and transnational perspectives which enables a new mode of reading the province’s specific encounter with colonialism and nationalism. It studies Assam’s history through the prism of opium, particularly the interplay between state and society during the period 1828–1947, and focusses on three groups—addicts, peddlers and reformers—whose interaction defined the terrain of the opium question in order to challenge the economic and nationalist bias in the historiography. It interprets opium as a cultural commodity and social practice and reorients the framework of opium in India from export trade to domestic consumption, using opium addiction in Assam and the global prohibition campaign as the vantage point to explore the interplay between colonial policy, local dissent, nationalism and transnational factors in order to understand the role that opium played in shaping social, cultural and political discourses. The thesis highlights that the opium discourse epitomised the juncture where local phenomenon, national processes and transnational developments overlapped and produced a complex narrative of the intersection of notions of indolence, improvement and industry with modernities, resistance and localisms. As a social biography of opium in colonial Assam, the thesis addresses deficiencies in our understanding of opium in India as well as the wider historiography of opium and enables modes of interpreting Assam’s unique encounter with colonialism and nationalism while also providing a framework to understand the influence of transnational factors in determining local facts. The thesis signals the centrality of transnational perspectives to drug history and is, therefore, both an attempt at recovery of local perspectives and regional specificities in the context of Assam as well as the insertion of locality into the global history of opium.",
keywords = "social history, South Asia, drug history, transnational history, public health, British Empire, India, colonial India, medicine, colonial society, colonial south Asia, royal commission on opium, opium, Asia, material culture, subaltern studies",
author = "Ved Baruah",
year = "2017",
month = "9",
day = "1",
language = "English",
school = "Cardiff University",

}

Addicts, Peddlers and Reformers : A Social History of Opium in Assam, 1826–1947. / Baruah, Ved.

Cardiff, 2017. 269 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

TY - THES

T1 - Addicts, Peddlers and Reformers

T2 - A Social History of Opium in Assam, 1826–1947

AU - Baruah, Ved

PY - 2017/9/1

Y1 - 2017/9/1

N2 - The thesis offers a social history of opium in colonial Assam by tracing the evolution of representations, perceptions and ideological positions on opium from local, national and transnational perspectives which enables a new mode of reading the province’s specific encounter with colonialism and nationalism. It studies Assam’s history through the prism of opium, particularly the interplay between state and society during the period 1828–1947, and focusses on three groups—addicts, peddlers and reformers—whose interaction defined the terrain of the opium question in order to challenge the economic and nationalist bias in the historiography. It interprets opium as a cultural commodity and social practice and reorients the framework of opium in India from export trade to domestic consumption, using opium addiction in Assam and the global prohibition campaign as the vantage point to explore the interplay between colonial policy, local dissent, nationalism and transnational factors in order to understand the role that opium played in shaping social, cultural and political discourses. The thesis highlights that the opium discourse epitomised the juncture where local phenomenon, national processes and transnational developments overlapped and produced a complex narrative of the intersection of notions of indolence, improvement and industry with modernities, resistance and localisms. As a social biography of opium in colonial Assam, the thesis addresses deficiencies in our understanding of opium in India as well as the wider historiography of opium and enables modes of interpreting Assam’s unique encounter with colonialism and nationalism while also providing a framework to understand the influence of transnational factors in determining local facts. The thesis signals the centrality of transnational perspectives to drug history and is, therefore, both an attempt at recovery of local perspectives and regional specificities in the context of Assam as well as the insertion of locality into the global history of opium.

AB - The thesis offers a social history of opium in colonial Assam by tracing the evolution of representations, perceptions and ideological positions on opium from local, national and transnational perspectives which enables a new mode of reading the province’s specific encounter with colonialism and nationalism. It studies Assam’s history through the prism of opium, particularly the interplay between state and society during the period 1828–1947, and focusses on three groups—addicts, peddlers and reformers—whose interaction defined the terrain of the opium question in order to challenge the economic and nationalist bias in the historiography. It interprets opium as a cultural commodity and social practice and reorients the framework of opium in India from export trade to domestic consumption, using opium addiction in Assam and the global prohibition campaign as the vantage point to explore the interplay between colonial policy, local dissent, nationalism and transnational factors in order to understand the role that opium played in shaping social, cultural and political discourses. The thesis highlights that the opium discourse epitomised the juncture where local phenomenon, national processes and transnational developments overlapped and produced a complex narrative of the intersection of notions of indolence, improvement and industry with modernities, resistance and localisms. As a social biography of opium in colonial Assam, the thesis addresses deficiencies in our understanding of opium in India as well as the wider historiography of opium and enables modes of interpreting Assam’s unique encounter with colonialism and nationalism while also providing a framework to understand the influence of transnational factors in determining local facts. The thesis signals the centrality of transnational perspectives to drug history and is, therefore, both an attempt at recovery of local perspectives and regional specificities in the context of Assam as well as the insertion of locality into the global history of opium.

KW - social history

KW - South Asia

KW - drug history

KW - transnational history

KW - public health

KW - British Empire

KW - India

KW - colonial India

KW - medicine

KW - colonial society

KW - colonial south Asia

KW - royal commission on opium

KW - opium

KW - Asia

KW - material culture

KW - subaltern studies

UR - http://orca.cf.ac.uk/93562/

UR - http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/history-archaeology-religion/research/publications

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

CY - Cardiff

ER -