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High Society: Mind-altering drugs in history and culture

High Society: Mind-altering drugs in history and culture EXHIBITION REVIEW Reviewed by Philip Gatter Research and Academic Co-ordinator, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK Curators of the Wellcome Trust’s thought-provoking exhibition, High Society, which was on in London from November 2010 until February 2011, argued that, with world trade in illicit drugs currently estimated at around £200 billion per year, it was timely to examine the emergence of mind-altering drugs from their culturally specific origins into the contested spaces of leisure, criminality, medicine, social control, and even high art and culture. This exhibition fascinated in its multifaceted approach. Historically, the desire for intoxication is transcultural. One section of High Society considered the origins of particular intoxicants, their spread via trade, and purification and translation into more powerful forms, the obvious example being heroin from opium. We were also introduced to the relationships between drugs and ritual, religion and social status. The 19th century provided a core to the exhibition in that it was then that drugs became more widely available and considered as possible stimulants to artistic expression. Substances that are now prohibited, or only available in strictly controlled circumstances on prescription, were freely available over the counter. Cocaine, for example, was a constituent http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Dual Diagnosis Pier Professional

High Society: Mind-altering drugs in history and culture

Advances in Dual Diagnosis , Volume 3 (4) – Dec 1, 2010

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Publisher
Pier Professional
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 by Pier Professional Limited
ISSN
1757-0972
eISSN
2042-8324
DOI
10.5042/add.2011.0193
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

EXHIBITION REVIEW Reviewed by Philip Gatter Research and Academic Co-ordinator, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK Curators of the Wellcome Trust’s thought-provoking exhibition, High Society, which was on in London from November 2010 until February 2011, argued that, with world trade in illicit drugs currently estimated at around £200 billion per year, it was timely to examine the emergence of mind-altering drugs from their culturally specific origins into the contested spaces of leisure, criminality, medicine, social control, and even high art and culture. This exhibition fascinated in its multifaceted approach. Historically, the desire for intoxication is transcultural. One section of High Society considered the origins of particular intoxicants, their spread via trade, and purification and translation into more powerful forms, the obvious example being heroin from opium. We were also introduced to the relationships between drugs and ritual, religion and social status. The 19th century provided a core to the exhibition in that it was then that drugs became more widely available and considered as possible stimulants to artistic expression. Substances that are now prohibited, or only available in strictly controlled circumstances on prescription, were freely available over the counter. Cocaine, for example, was a constituent

Journal

Advances in Dual DiagnosisPier Professional

Published: Dec 1, 2010

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