Under the Influence - A History of Drug Use
In May 2023 our friends at the Last Tuesday Society hosted a lecture by Ben Curran, Curator at the Museum of Drugs. You can watch that lecture below. Please note the Content Warning at the start of the lecture.
Under the Influence
Archaeological and social anthropological evidence suggests that drug use played an important role in our early evolution as Homo sapiens; affording us the means of deeper introspection and wider connection within social groups and structures. Drugs have played an important role in the economic development of our civilisations, as valuable commodities to be traded across land and sea. They have been vital in our creative development, influencing art, literature, music, dance, and ritual.
Yet in modern times, drugs have become synonymous with crime and disorder; vilified in the media as the root cause of many of our social ills, and lambasted by politicians who are keen to demonstrate they are tough and uncompromising. Since 1971, we have been engaged in a War on Drugs, a war that has seen trillions of dollars of investment with little sign of it reaching an imminent conclusion, despite mounting calls for a paradigm shift.
How did we arrive at this point in our history?
Using a unique collection of antiques and artefacts, Under the Influence explores the historical events, the myths and moral panics, that have resulted in the criminalisation of the production, supply, and possession of drugs throughout the world.
The collection includes some artefacts that are of a challenging nature, including items depicting racial stereotypes. They are presented as part of the lecture for the purpose of adopting an anti-discriminatory position.