Archive for the ‘Teaching the History of Narcotrafficking and Gangs’ Category

Security in Central America: Rice University Panel

Panel discussion on Central American security, trafficking, and gangs. Panelists include Dr. Thomas Ward, PhD, of University of Southern California. Dr. Ward is an anthropologist and expert on Salvadoran youth gangs and MS-13.

Make sure to read my review of Maras, which is found in the book review section.


Low intensity conflict in the drug wars

Panel discussion including Dr. Howard Campbell, PhD, author of “Drug War Zone.”

USAID Central America and Mexico Gangs Report 2006

VIDEO: Greg Grandin Comments on Drug War, Chilean Miners, Current Events in Latin America

Dr. Paul Gootenberg- The Pre-Colombian Era of Drug Trafficking in the United States

Dr. Frank Guridy, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas-Austin and Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies. In fall 2012, Professor Guridy plans to teach a graduate seminar called “Transnational America.” This is a tentative syllabus of his course, which will touch upon transnational commodity chains and the flows of goods and people across borders.

HIS 386K • Transnational America

39725 • Fall 2012
Meets TH 100pm-400pm JES A230
(also listed as AFR 386, LAS 386)

hide description

Course Description: This graduate readings course will grapple with the implications of the so-called “transnational turn” in American hemispheric studies. It takes up the challenge posed by recent work on transnationalism and globalization by training graduate students in the theories and methodologies of a field that is emerging from older models of international and comparative scholarship to more recent approaches that highlight the movement of peoples, commodities, and ideas across borders. Students will encounter an eclectic mix of transnational scholarship from fields including: African Diaspora Studies, Borderlands history, commodity chains studies, migration studies, among others. While the course will draw mostly from the discipline of history, it explicitly incorporates scholarship from other disciplines to encourage students to develop interdisciplinary approaches. The ultimate goal of the course is to prompt students to conceptualize the Americas as a broader American interconnected transborder space, rather than a hemisphere of different nation-states.


Grade Breakdown:

Active Class Participation  20%

Author Report  20%

Review Essay 20%

Final Paper  40%


Tentative Reading List:

Stephanie Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora

José David Saldívar, Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico)

Frank Andre Guridy, Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African-Americas in a World of Empire and Jim Crow

Michael Hanchard, Orpheus and Power: The Movimento Negro of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1945-1988

John Soluri, Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950

Jorge Duany, Blurred Borders: Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States

Christopher Thomas Gaffney, Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Deborah A. Thomas, Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica

The following syllabus was created by Dr. Paul Gootenberg, Professor of History at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of the award-winning Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug (2008).

Dr. Gootenberg’s profile can be found here:


This Theme Seminar, intended primarily for aspiring Ph.D. students from any regional concentration or discipline, explores the history of what anthropologist Sidney Mintz calls the “food-drugs”–sugar, tobacco, coffee, alcohol, betel, chocolate, yerba mate, coca and the like.  It examines their creation as commodities and their powerful historical contributions to colonialism, capitalism and modernity.  More broadly, it is an introduction to the “new” commodity history and its expanding global horizons.  The core thematic questions posed are:  How were these food-drug commodities “constructed” out of things and/or from long-standing embedded social relationships?  How did certain local substances become profitable long-distance commodities after the 16th-century world conquests and become accepted and popular objects of mass consumption?  Why did others become eventually categorized, during the 19th and 20thcenturies, as unworthy, dangerous or illicit goods?  How did this commercial “psycho-active revolution” affect, culturally, politically and economically, the making of the modern world?  Students will take on interdisciplinary literatures (from Anthropology and Sociology) about commodity-formation and a broad series of recent monographs on particular substances, ending on those now deemed illicit.  About half of the literature is based on American-hemisphere substances and their global entanglements.

After a few weeks of introductory (more theoretical) readings, the Seminar revolves around weekly discussions of exemplary recent monographs about various food-drug commodities. There will be a collective mid-term “writing exercise” (around Weeks 7-8) and students will write and present a historiographic paper on the food-drug of their choice (Due Dec. 6). This seminar demands intensive reading and critical discussion and welcomes graduate students with interdisciplinary concerns. Office hours (MW 12-2 SBS N333), are best by appointment. The following seminar books (most worth buying) are available at Stony Brooks (only): W. Schivelbusch, Tastes of Paradise: Social History of Spices, Stimulants & Intoxicants Vintage Arnold Bauer, Goods, Power, History: Latin America’s Material Culture (Cambridge) Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (Penguin) Sophie and Michael Coe, The True History of Chocolate (Thames & Hudson) Judith Carney, Black Rice: African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Harvard) Jeremy Pilcher, Que Vivan los Tamales!: Food & the Making of Mexican Identity (New Mexico) David Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs & the Making of the Modern World (Harvard) F. Bruce Lamb, Wizard of the Upper Amazon (North Atlantic Books-& varied publishers) Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds: Coffee and how it Transformed our World(Basic Bks) Paul Gootenberg, ed., Cocaine: Global Histories (Routledge) John Stevens, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream (Perennial)