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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Between the 1890s and the 1950s, drug smuggling became a global problem. The League of Nations played a pivotal role during the interwar period in promoting perceptions of “drug trafficking” and fashioning an international response. Drawing on archives in Geneva, London, and New York, as well as fiction, this essay examines the “dreamscape” of drug trafficking: the nightmare of the foreign trafficker and the dream of a worldwide scheme for drug control. It explores the fear of “reverse colonization” in relation to the drug trade and the British Empire before the First World War, explains the vision of police cooperation that shaped the League’s response to drug trafficking, and examines the concept of “organized crime” in relation to the League’s response. The discussion includes a look at the emergence of the role of the United States in the United Nations antidrug campaign after the Second World War.

Keywords: drug trafficking, international crime, reverse colonization, organized crime, cultural history, League of Nations

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