The Colombian Puzzle: Or, How the Coffee Republic Became a Cocaine Nightmare

Library Meeting Room aka Pillow Room

Open to the public

/ Monday


Contrary to Mexico and Peru, two countries that have supplied the U.S. illegal drugs market since the late 19th century, Colombia never played a role in the transnational networks of drug smuggling that connected South and North America until the 1970s. How was it possible that the Colombian coffee republic, a nation that was praised as a showcase of modernization and representative democracy in Latin America, became the cocaine laboratory of the world with dire implications for hemispheric security? Professor Lina Britto addresses the puzzle to argue for a historical approach to drug studies, one that considers the contradictions of long-term struggles for agrarian development and efforts at state formation in a fast-growing nation.

Lina Britto is a Colombian full-time historian and occasional journalist. She holds a PhD from New York University and teaches modern Latin American History at Northwestern University. She has published extensively in Colombian and U.S. media for more than two decades. Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise, her first academic book, is forthcoming from University of California Press.

Sponsored by the Social Science Colloquium Series.