At the beginning of the 21st century, alcoholism, transnational drug trafficking and drug addiction constitute major problems in various South Asian countries. The production, circulation and consumption of intoxicating substances created (and responded to) social upheavals in the region and had widespread economic, political and cultural repercussions on an international level. This book looks at the cultural, social, and economic history of intoxicants in South Asia, and analyses the role that alcohol and drugs have played in the region.
The book explores the linkages between changing meanings of intoxicating substances, the making of and contestations over colonial and national regimes of regulation, economics, and practices and experiences of consumption. It shows the development of current meanings of intoxicants in South Asia – in terms of politics, cultural norms and identity formation – and the way in which the history of drugs and alcohol is enmeshed in the history of modern empires and nation states ― even in a country in which a staunch teetotaller and active anti-drug crusader like Mohandas Gandhi is presented as the ‘father of the nation’.
Primarily a historical analysis, the book also includes perspectives from Modern Indology and Cultural Anthropology and situates developments in South Asia in wider imperial and global contexts. It is of interest to scholars working on the social and cultural history of alcohol and drugs, South Asian Studies and Global History.