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Andean Cocaine

Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug

Paul Gootenberg
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Andean Cocaine
    Book Description:

    Illuminating a hidden and fascinating chapter in the history of globalization, Paul Gootenberg chronicles the rise of one of the most spectacular and now illegal Latin American exports: cocaine.Gootenberg traces cocaine's history from its origins as a medical commodity in the nineteenth century to its repression during the early twentieth century and its dramatic reemergence as an illicit good after World War II. Connecting the story of the drug's transformations is a host of people, products, and processes: Sigmund Freud, Coca-Cola, and Pablo Escobar all make appearances, exemplifying the global influences that have shaped the history of cocaine. But Gootenberg decenters the familiar story to uncover the roles played by hitherto obscure but vital Andean actors as well--for example, the Peruvian pharmacist who developed the techniques for refining cocaine on an industrial scale and the creators of the original drug-smuggling networks that decades later would be taken over by Colombian traffickers.Andean Cocaineproves indispensable to understanding one of the most vexing social dilemmas of the late twentieth-century Americas: the American cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and, in its wake, the seemingly endless U.S. drug war in the Andes.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0582-1
    Subjects: History, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. CHRONOLOGY: Cocaine, 1850–2000
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Cocaine as Andean History
    (pp. 1-12)

    Pharmacist Alfredo Bignon was burning the midnight oil in the backroom laboratory of his Droguería y Botica Francesa, just around the corner from Lima’s main Plaza de Armas. Once more, he went over in his head his hardwon new formula for making cocaine. Tomorrow, the thirteenth of March 1885, he would present his findings at the Academia Libre de Medicina de Lima, where a distinguished panel of Peruvian doctors and chemists would judge his innovation in a ten-page officialinforme. Bignon felt satisfied. Using simple precipitation methods and local ingredients — fresh-grown Andean coca leaf, kerosene, soda ash — he was able...


      (pp. 15-54)

      It was Karl Marx, in a foundational nineteenth-century text on commodities composed about the same time his compatriots were celebrating a new “miracle drug,”cocain, who first stressed the mental life of things, that is, how market relationships are first constructed as a process within the human mind, enveloping ordinary goods in powerful, often paradoxical social illusions.¹ Drugs like cocaine, extraordinary goods that affect consciousness itself, are bound to excite the human imagination in even more passionate, fantastical, and mystifying ways.

      This chapter examines historical discourses about coca leaf and cocaine from the Spanish colonial era through the mid-1880s, when...

    • 2 MAKING A NATIONAL COMMODITY: Peruvian Crude Cocaine, 1885–1910
      (pp. 55-102)

      In the two decades after 1860, Peruvian pharmacists, medical authorities, promoters, and statesmen began recasting the possibilities of ancient Andean coca leaf and experimenting with its newfound derivative, cocaine. Between 1886 and 1900, a small group of national entrepreneurs, along with localized foreign capitalists, were able to transform these ideas, using local know-how and resources, into one of Peru’s most dynamic exports during its recovery from the myriad catastrophes of the nineteenth century. This chapter reconstructs the rise of this new national commodity in Peru: industrial cocaine. By 1900, cocaine and commercialized coca leaf sales together had risen to be...


    • 3 COCAINE ENCHAINED: Global Commodity Circuits, 1890s–1930s
      (pp. 105-142)

      This chapter serves as a kind of bridge — or analytical interregnum — between cocaine’s nineteenth-century formation as a global commodity and its commercial decline and eventual demise as a licit commodity during the first half of the twentieth century. Instead of building from archival detail, as in most of the book, in this chapter I adopt a more synthetic and explicit political economy and commodity perspective on cocaine. Specifically, I place cocaine’s historic rise and fall in the context of global commodity chains as a way to portray and analyze the intrinsically global origins and ramifications of modern drugs such as...

    • 4 WITHERING COCAINE: Peruvian Responses, 1910–1945
      (pp. 143-188)

      The last chapter sketched the global commodity networks of cocaine that had coalesced by 1920 and whose tensions and competition ended for coca’s homeland the buoyant era during which Peruvians had built the export commodity cocaine and dominated its world supply. After 1910, legal Peruvian cocaine tumbled into a deep economic crisis from which it would never rebound. Shaken by the sudden explosion of the Asian colonial cocaine circuits, its possibilities were also constrained after 1915 by a new politics of anticocainism: the antinarcotics political economy of the United States, shrinking medicinal usage, and delegitimization by the restrictions of advancing...

    • 5 ANTICOCAINE: From Reluctance to Global Prohibitions, 1910–1950
      (pp. 189-242)

      In this chapter, I trace the global anticocaine movement born in the early twentieth century, which culminated at mid-century in a full-blown global prohibition around cocaine — a regime restricting producing regions in the Andes as well as production, medical usage, and illicit use in consuming sites such as the United States. The rise of twentieth-century narcotics control is the subject of a vast literature not only because this system’s paradoxical legacies still plague us today, but also because the campaign to ban menacing drugs was one of the first models of internationalized norms and policing institutions. That scholarship, however, barely...


    • 6 BIRTH OF THE NARCOS: Pan-American Illicit Networks, 1945–1965
      (pp. 245-290)

      Between 1947 and 1964, a wholly new class of international cocaine traffickers swiftly arose, formed by little-known Peruvians, Bolivians, Cubans, Chileans, Mexicans, Brazilians, and Argentines. These men — and often daring young women — while pursued by overseas drug agents, pioneered the business of illicit cocaine, a drug whose small-scale production in eastern Peru had remained aboveboard until the late 1940s. After 1945, commodity cocaine, vestige of a heroic bygone age, was entering its final stage of decline, constricted as it was by the global effects of World War II and closely watched by U.S. and UN drug controllers. Despite some suspicions...

    • 7 THE DRUG BOOM (1965–1975) AND BEYOND
      (pp. 291-324)

      Reflecting on cocaine’s long journey over time, from its heroic commercial and nationalist origins in the nineteenth century through its contested decline as a legal commodity during the first half of the twentieth century to its politics-driven shift underground after World War II, here I focus on three changes that would unleash the drug’s illicit boom by the 1960s and 1970s. These were, first, the collapse of postwar development schemes for Peru’s Huallaga Valley, which brought a coca peasantry into the active intensification of illicit cocaine; second, the linkage in the early 1970s of this Andean cocaine capitalism, via cold...

  9. APPENDIX Quantifying Cocaine
    (pp. 325-336)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 337-376)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY: A Gudie to the Historiography of Cocaine
    (pp. 377-384)
    (pp. 385-412)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 413-442)