Spring 2024 Political Science UN3565 section 001


Call Number 00369
Day & Time
MW 8:40am-9:55am
405 Milbank Hall (Barnard)
Points 4
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required None
Instructor Eduardo Moncada
Course Description

A major challenge for governments across the Western Hemisphere is the complex relationship between illicit drugs, violence, and politics. We can see this relationship operating at multiple levels, from everyday politics in gang-controlled neighborhoods to the global arenas where governments debate and craft international drug policy. These links also reach back in history to global wars of empire and colonial rule, race relations during and following the collapse of the institution of slavery, and contemporary drug wars being waged across the Western Hemisphere and other parts of the world. Today, the dynamics and consequences of the politics of illicit drugs touch all our lives in different ways, including individual and family struggles with substance abuse, everyday encounters with militarized police, and the strains on democracy and citizenship, among many others. This course will examine some of these dynamics and consequences with a theoretical and empirical focus mainly on Latin America and the United States. Throughout our time together we will connect these pressing issues to broader theories, concepts and empirical findings in political science. The course is divided into several individual modules (denoted below with the headings A – G) under three overarching themes for this semester:


1. Politics of Drugs in a Historical Perspective: The first theme is a broad historical overview of the political origins of illicit drugs and the global drug regime. Some of the main questions we will tackle are: When and why did states label drugs as illicit?  How did domestic and global politics come together to shape the global drug regime and the “war on drugs?” What role did race and gender play in the early social construction of illicit drugs?


2. Illicit Drugs, Politics and Governance: The second theme focuses on contemporary linkages between illicit drugs, violence, and politics. Here we will examine the conditions under which illicit drug markets are either violent or (relatively) peaceful. We will tackle questions like: Do states always seek to dismantle drug markets? What is the relationship between illicit drugs and electoral politics? What role do illicit drugs play in governance by armed non-state actors?  Are states and criminal actors involved in the drug trade always at “war” with each other? 

3. Democracy, Citizenship, and the War on Drugs: The th

Web Site Vergil
Department Political Science @Barnard
Enrollment 54 students (60 max) as of 4:05PM Monday, May 20, 2024
Subject Political Science
Number UN3565
Section 001
Division Barnard College
Campus Barnard College
Section key 20241POLS3565V001