History of substance use and control in British Guiana

Kellie Moss, Deborah Toner


Whilst the impact of drugs on the culture of Caribbean societies and Indigenous populations is well documented, their role in maintaining influence over an ethnically diverse population and regulating labour productivity are frequently overlooked. In this paper we examine the use of drugs as a means of compelling and retaining labour in British Guiana during the nineteenth century. We also assess changes over time in how the colonial state managed concerns that the use of intoxicants threatened its control over the labouring population through licensing laws, carceral institutions and the criminalisation of certain drugs.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.202143757


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