This thesis analyzes Swiss anti-alcohol agitation on two different, but interdependent constellations: the first core area examines the emergence of an outwardly scientific, social hygienic influenced teetotaler current which spread out from Switzerland and the impact of its radical concepts of freedom and responsibility on transnational anti-alcohol debates. This study will therefore focus on international actors such as the Blue Cross, the Swiss lodges of the International Order of Good Templars and the International Bureau against Alcoholism. It will trace contested negotiation processes relating to the “medicalization” of addiction theories as well as to the national and international regulation of psychoactive substance consumption.
The second core area is the anti-alcohol agitation in the former colony of the Gold Coast, where Missionaries of the Basel Mission campaigned against alcohol. The colonial setting was quite different when compared to the European setting, especially in regard to actor constellations and socio-cultural significance of alcohol. Nevertheless, many connections to “western”, transnational alcohol debates and anti-alcohol networks can be found, particularly in the late 1920s, when the global network became a highly visible pressure group in efforts to regulate the trade of certain psychoactive substances in international law.
Building up on previous studies, this thesis examines parts of the transnational temperance networks and debates, which referred to both national, as well as international, negotiations about boundaries between legal and illegal intoxicants.
The thesis aims to show how different actors took up various motives and structures, how they adapted it to the national constellation and how they tried to influence – claiming universal validity – the global temperance discourse. Consequently, this study aims to put the apparent Anglo-American hegemony over the temperance discourse into perspective. A pivotal part will be the analysis of various conflicts sparked by the emerging Social Hygiene theories, which focuses on three dimensions:
The anti-alcohol movement can be understood as one of the earliest global civil society movements with long-term impact on the emergence of global government structures as well as on the normative use of the term “drug”.
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