Addiction genealogy has tended to center isolated figures of diseased will and the disciplinary powers that seek to reform them. Yet advances in the governance of habit in the late nineteenth-century US did not always single out discrete persons. Local and national drug control regimes were first developed in response to a racialized scene of contagious appetites—the opium den. It was the effort to regulate group scenes, more than the drama of lost mastery encased in the figure of the addict, that accounts for the criminalization of drug habits. To reassemble that other history of addiction, this essay tracks the shifting arrangement of opium scenes in medical theory, state regulatory profiles, and narcotourist mediascapes. Across these archives there emerge strategies of aesthetic containment, but also a logic of moral panic incited by transsensory drift. Both aimed to restrict the transit of appetite to settler capitalist circuits of accumulation and the cycles of chronic dispossession on which they rest. Although unable to dissolve those circuits, I argue that opium joints could nonetheless shelter the transient uncoiling of appetite from the reproduction of settler-national time.


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pp. 813-834
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