Dealers and Smokers in the Late Ottoman and Interwar Periods | Zach Foster

Unlike many historical topics, drug use is often absent in the historical record due to its illicit nature. However, thanks to authorities who sought to control the drug trade and commentators that wrote about drug culture, we can piece together some of the social networks that drug trade and use facilitated in the past. In this episode, Zach Foster discusses the evolution of the drug trade in the Eastern Mediterranean during the period of transition from Ottoman to British and French Mandate rule, as European states and the emerging bourgeoisie in the Middle East became increasingly concerned with the pervasive "issue" of drug use.

Zachary J. Foster is a doctoral student in the Department of Near East Studies at Princeton University
Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see

Episode No. 60
Release date: 13 July 2012

Note for the listener: Although this podcast is based in part on primary source research, it is also a synthesis of publicly available information and draws extensively from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these works.

Select Bibliography

Liat Kozma, "Cannabis Prohibition in Egypt, 1880–1939: From Local Ban to League of Nations Diplomacy", Middle Eastern Studies, 47:3, 443-460

Cyrus Schayegh, "The Many Worlds of ˁAbud Yasin; or, What Narcotics Trafficking in the Interwar Middle East Can Tell Us about Territorialization," The American Historical Review, Vol. 116, No. 2 (April 2011), pp. 273-306

G. G. Nahas, Hashish and drug abuse in Egypt during the 19th and 20th centuries. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1985 June; 61(5): 428–444. PMCID: PMC1911881

Zachary J. Foster, "Marginalized Desires: Illicit Drug Trafficking and Use in British Mandatory Palestine," (unpublished paper, 2010)