The Trans-Asian Trade in Turkish Opium, 1912-1940

  • MACARTHUR-SEAL, Daniel-Joseph (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    The research project investigates the licit and illicit commerce in opium and its derivatives between Turkey and East Asia in the early twentieth century. The research aims to reveal the complex networks that brought Turkish opium to China at a time when previously dominant British-Indian sources of opium were withdrawn and new national laws and international treaties increasingly restricted the legal marketplace for the drug.

    The research project will uncover the formation, composition, and extent of these commercial networks, paying particular attention to their transcommunal and transnational reach. It will further examine the measures carried out by state authorities and shipping companies to combat smuggling and establish control over the maritime traffic that connected the ports of the Mediterranean and South and East China Seas. Finally, it will assess the diplomatic impact of the opium trade and efforts at its suppression on relations between Turkey, Japan, and China, in terms of both their bilateral ties and the three countries’ joint participation in new forms of international organisation such as represented by the League of Nations.

    The research project will excavate these subversive networks through the collection and analysis of Turkish and Greek government documents, Hong Kong and Shanghai municipal and police records, the archives of the China Customs Service, the reports of the opium control board of the League of Nations, international newspaper collections, and the observations of American, British, and French diplomatic representatives and colonial officials.

    This research will lead to the publication of a peer reviewed journal article which will examine the attempt of private and state bodies in Turkey to penetrate the east Asian opium market in the 1920s and 1930s and the competition and local and international political opposition they faced. The research will further contribute to the completion of what will be the first monograph length study on the traffic in narcotics in the early twentieth century eastern Mediterranean, with the role of Asian markets forming one chapter of the manuscript, with the research prepared for other chapters already complete
    Effective start/end date1/01/20 → 31/12/22


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