History of substance use and control in British Guiana

Kellie Moss, Deborah Toner

Abstract


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.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Anderson, C. Ifill, I. Adams, E. and Moss, K. (2020), ‘Guyana’s Prisons: Colonial Histories of Post-Colonial Challenges’, The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 59, 3: 335-49.

Angrosino, M.V (2003) Rum and Ganja, Indenture, Drug Foods, Labor Motivation, and the Evolution of the Modern Sugar Industry in Trinidad, in W. R. Jankowiak, D. Bradburd, eds, Drugs, Labor, and Colonial Expansion. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Bernau, John Henry (1847) Missionary Labours in British Guiana: with remarks on the manners, customs and superstitious rites of the aborigines. London: John Farquhar Shaw.

Bronkhurst, H.V.P (1883) The Colony of British Guiana, and its Labouring Population. London: T. Woolmer.

Burnett, D. G (2002) ‘“It Is Impossible to Make a Step without the Indians”: Nineteenth-Century Geographical Exploration and the Amerindians of British Guiana’, Ethnohistory, 49: 1, pp. 3-40.

CARICOM (2018) Regional Commission on Marijuana 2018, Waiting to Exhale- Safeguarding our Future Through Responsible Socio-Legal Policy on Marijuana. Caribbean Community: Secretariat.

Dikötter, F. Laaman, L. Xun, Z (2007) China, British Imperialism and the Myth of the “Opium Plague’’, in James H. Mills and Patricia Barton, eds, Drugs and Empire: Essays in Modern Imperialism and Intoxication, c. 1500-c.1930. Houndsmill: Palgrave, pp. 19-38.

Dikotter, F. Laamann, L. Xun, Z (2004) Narcotic Culture, A History of Drugs in China. London: Hurst & Co. Ltd.

Duff, R. A. M (1866) British Guiana, Being Notes on a few of its Natural Productions, Industrial Occupations, and Social Institutions. Glasgow: Thomas Murray and Son.

Fischer-Tiné, Harald (2014) Liquid Boundaries: Race, Class, Alcohol in Colonial India, in Harald Fischer-Tiné and Jana Tschurenev, eds, A History of Alcohol and Drugs in Modern South Asia: Intoxicating Affairs. London: Routledge, pp. 89-115.

Gramaglia, L (2013) Migration and Mental Illness in the British West Indies 1838-1900: The Cases of Trinidad and British Guiana, in Catherine Cox and Hilary Marland, eds, Migration, Health and Ethnicity in the Modern World. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 61-82.

Grieve, Robert (2010) The Asylum Journal: conducted by the medical superintendent of the public lunatic asylum for British Guiana, Volume 1 (1881-1882) introduction by L. Gramaglia. Guyana: The Caribbean Press.

Jankowiak, W. R. Bradburd, D (2003) Drugs, Desire, and European Economic Expansion, in W. R. Jankowiak, D. Bradburd, eds, Drugs, Labor, and Colonial Expansion. USA: University of Arizona Press, pp. 3-30.

UK House of Commons Parliamentary Paper [PP]:

- 1834 [617] Papers relating to Aboriginal Tribes of N. America, New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land, and British Guiana: Despatch from Colonial Secretary (Viscount Goderich) Frederick John Robinson, to Governor Benjamin D’Urban, 17 February 1832.

-1837 [425] Report from the select Committee on Aborigines in British Settlements: South America, Comments from the Prime Minister (Lord Goderich) Frederick John Robinson, 26 June 1837.

- 1846 [691-I, 691-II, 691-III] Returns relating to labouring population in British colonies: Enclosure 2, Mayor of Georgetown, John Croal, observations relative to drunkenness, in a copy of a despatch from Governor Henry Light to Secretary of State, Edward Smith Stanley (Lord Stanley), 2 July 1845.

- 1849 [297] Select Committee on Ceylon and British Guiana: Consolidated Return, half year ending 31st December 1848, Table C, Colony of British Guiana, 7 February 1849, J. H. Goodman, Acting Circuit Stipendiary Magistrate.

- 1851 [624] Despatches on Condition of Sugar-growing colonies: Part 1. British Guiana, sub-enclosure 1, to enclose 2, in No. 70, Protector of Emigrants, 16 December 1850.

- 1857-8 [525] Emigration. Emigration from China to British Guiana and Trinidad. Copies of letters addressed by members of the West India Committee to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the subject of emigration from China to the colonies of British Guiana and Trinidad, and of documents connected therewith; also, of replies from the Colonial Secretary and the Emigration Commissioners: Report on the State of Disease on board the Ship ‘’Kitty Simpson’’, during her recent voyage from Swatao to Havana, from Thomas H. Somerville, Surgeon on the Kitty, 18 March 1858.

- 1859 [31, 31-I] Correspondence between Colonial Office and Governors of W, Indian Colonies and Mauritius, with respect to Conditions of Labouring Population and Supply of Labour (Part I. British Guiana; Jamaica; Trinidad). Letter from Acting Stipendiary Magistrate, L. G. Tucker to the Acting Government Secretary, J. Gardiner Austin, 10 December 1857.

- 1871 [C. 393, C. 393-1, C.392-II] Report of the commissioners appointed to enquire into the treatment of immigrants in British Guiana: Commission Report Mr Des Veux to Colonial Secretary, Granville Leveson-Gower (Earl Granville), 25 December 1869.

- 1871 [C.458] Correspondence on Complaints of Portuguese Residents in British Guiana: Enclosure No. 7, Governor John Scott to the Colonial Secretary, John Wodehouse (Earl of Kimberley), 26 April 1871.

- 1896 [C. 7972 C. 7972-1 C. 8106] Documents and correspondence relating to question of boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela: Appendix No. II, Enclosure No.6, despatch from Acting Governor Codd to Earl Bathurst, 26 September 1818, Instruction for the post-holders with the Indians in Essequebo and Demerary, P. F. Ginne, Secretary.

Jankowiak, W. Bradburd, D (1996) Using Drug Foods to Capture and Enhance Labor Performance: A cross cultural perspective, Current Anthropology, 37.4, pp. 717-720.

Lee, Peter (2006) Opium Culture: The Art and Ritual of the Chinese Tradition. Vermont: Park Street Press.

Lussana, Sergio (2016) My Brother Slaves: Friendship, Masculinity and Resistance in the Antebellum South. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

McDowall, T.W (1893) Section of Psychology, Insanity from the Abuse of Indian Hemp, in The British Medical Journal, vol. 2, No. 1707, 16 September 1893, pp. 618–630.

Mills, J (2009) Cannabis and the Cultures of Colonialism: Government, Medicine, ritual and pleasures in the history of an Asian drug (c. 1800 – c. 1895),’ Zeitenblicke, 9 (3). Available at http://www.zeitenblicke.de/2009/3/Abstractseng/index_html (Accessed on 1 April 2020).

Mills, J (1995) ‘Globalising Ganja: The British Empire and International cannabis traffic c. 1834 to c. 1939’ in J. Goodman, P. Lovejoy, and A. Sherratt, eds, Consuming Habits, Global and Historical Perspectives on How Cultures Define Drugs. London: Routledge, pp. 178-93.

Roopnarine, L (2014) Resistance and Adaptation among Indentured Indian Labourers in British Guiana during Indentureship, in M. S. Hassankhan, B. V. Lal, D. Munro, eds, Resistance and Indian Indenture Experience, Comparative Perspectives. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, pp. 157-82.

Smith, Frederick (2004) Spirits and Spirituality: Enslaved Persons and Alcohol in West Africa and the British and French Caribbean, The Journal of Caribbean History, 38:2, pp. 279-309.

Smith, Frederick (2005) Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Rayner, T. Nunan, J. J, (1916) ‘South Atlantic,’ Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, vol. 16, pp. 183–193.

TNA [The National Archives]:

- CO 111/451/96: Ordinance 4 of 1889, Despatch from Governor Jenico Preston, (Viscount Gormanston) to Colonial Secretary Henry Holland, (Baron Knutsford), 25 March 1889.

- CO 111/584/163: Convention, Opium, Morphia & Cocaine, Response to circular despatch from Government Secretary Charles Cox to Colonial Secretary Lewis Harcourt, 21 May 1912.

- CO 113/1/15: An ordinance for the relief of the destitute poor in British Guiana, 1839.

- CO 113/1/4: An ordinance to regulate and encourage immigration into British Guiana, 1841.

- CO 113/1/9: An ordinance to regulate and carry into effects the licensing and conducting of retail spirit shops in the rural districts; to prevent evasions of the tax on rum, and to prohibit the issuing of rum by unlicensed persons in British Guiana, 1841.

- CO 113/4/22: An ordinance to regulate the sale of opium and bhang, 1861.

- CO 113/5/7: An ordinance to consolidate and amend the law relating to immigrants, 1873.

- CO 113/6/26: An ordinance to amend the law relating to the importation and sale of opium, 1880.

- CO 113/8/4: An ordinance to amend the law relating to the importation and sale of opium, 1889.

- CO 113/8/24: An ordinance to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the manufacture, storage, conveyance, and sale of spirits, 1890.

- CO 113/13/29: An ordinance to regulate the importation and sale of preparations of Indian Hemp, 1913.

- CO 113/13/30: An ordinance to give effect to the measures decided upon in the International Opium Convention signed at the Hague on the 23rd day of January 1912, and regulate the importation, exportation, storage and disposal of opium, morphine, cocaine and similar drugs in this colony, 1913.

- CO 113/21/10: An Ordinance to regulate the importation, exportation, production, manufacture, sale and use of Opium, 1937.

Wald, Erica (2018) Governing the Bottle: Alcohol, Race and Class in Nineteenth-Century India, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 46:3, pp. 397-417




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

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2020 Kellie Moss, Deborah Toner

We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.
OK