This time I am going to react to three readings. The first one is The Social Life of opium in China, 1483-1999, the second one is chapter 2 of Drugs and Empires and the last one is chapter 5 of Drugs and Empires. Also, I am going to examine some primary sources from the book Modern China and Opium which can support or against the arguments in these three readings.
Let’s discuss the research questions first. Yangwen Zheng, the author of The Social Life of opium in China, 1483-1999, mainly focused on how opium affected the social and cultural life in China rather than discuss the political aspect. He believed that opium helps us understand social control. Here are the few research questions that Yangwen Zheng had pointed out: (1) how opium items transformed from a medicine to a luxury item? (2) Why opium became so popular and widespread after people discovered its recreational value? (3) How and when did opium come to lodge itself within the sophisticated Chinese material culture? (4) Why the Chinese embraced opium and how they redefined it? (5) Why opium transformed from luxury to necessity? (6) Why opium was so important in the sex industry in China?
Frank Dikotter, LaesLaamann and Xun Zhou, the authors of Drugs and Empires in chapter 2, were mainly focused on the consumption culture of opium in the Chinese society. They believed that opium use in China wasn’t the outcome of imperialism. Here are the research questions: (1) what was the consuming myth of opium? (2) How opium affected the social status of people? (3) How opium smoking progressed down the social scale during the second half of the 19th century? (4) What were the reasons for smoking opium used by a majority of smokers? (5) Why the social status of opium declined in the 1930s?
Chapter 5 of Drugs and Empires was quite short. In fact, the Chinese opium market was supported by India. According to