Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug by Paul Gootenberg

By Paul Gootenberg

Illuminating a hidden and engaging bankruptcy within the heritage of globalization, Paul Gootenberg chronicles the increase of 1 of the main staggering and now unlawful Latin American exports: cocaine. Gootenberg lines cocaine's background from its origins as a scientific commodity within the 19th century to its repression through the early 20th century and its dramatic reemergence as a bootleg strong after global warfare II. Connecting the tale of the drug's differences is a bunch of individuals, items, and techniques: Sigmund Freud, Coca-Cola, and Pablo Escobar all make appearances, exemplifying the worldwide affects that experience formed the historical past of cocaine. yet Gootenberg decenters the established tale to discover the jobs performed by means of hitherto imprecise yet very important Andean actors as well—for instance, the Peruvian pharmacist who constructed the suggestions for refining cocaine on an business scale and the creators of the unique drug-smuggling networks that a long time later will be taken over by means of Colombian traffickers. Andean Cocaine proves essential to figuring out the most vexing social dilemmas of the overdue twentieth-century Americas: the yankee cocaine epidemic of the Nineteen Eighties and, in its wake, the probably never-ending U.S. drug warfare within the Andes.

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Significantly, little attempt registered to fit coca into the humoral system, which in contested or convoluted ways defined the other newfound stimulants and spices reaching Europe. Over time, outside the hermetically sealed Spanish American empire of the seventeenth century, coca became instead a fading fable of the conquest era, associated with Spanish obscurantism, pirates (who sometimes took up its use), or inherently deceitful Indians. 8 The mythical energy-producing leaf conjured up Indians performing impossible physical feats on empty stomachs in the style of Greek gods, an image hard to reconcile with their “primitive” or abject state.

25 percent of the whole leaf ), refining the method for his 1860 doctoral thesis at Göttingen. Within two years, Wilhelm Lossen, also of Göttingen, identified the chemical formula of cocaine hydrochloride, and many assays and tests followed. With coca no longer shrouded in Andean legend, the next two decades sparked a whirlwind of experiments on cocaine, a rare and expensive drug still lacking a practical application, which it would only find as a local anesthetic after 1884. During this 1860–84 interregnum, the pioneering chemist Emmanuel Merck of Darmstadt (who had commercialized morphine) and a few others began making the drug in experimental batches.

By 1600, however, the coca trade to Potosí alone was worth more than five hundred thousand pesos a year and had thus become a formidable colonial economic bloc. Under Spanish rule, the growing of coca and its sale to working migrants became “commoditized,” to use an ungainly term, while coca’s everyday use value in highland villages became an affirmation of surviving Andean values. In cultural terms, use of coca in Peru’s highly segmented two-republics society was not creolized or “mestizo-ized” (as cacao quickly was in postconquest Mexico) but, to dominant elites, became instead a defining, lasting marker of a degraded subaltern “Indian” caste.

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