During the early twentieth century, opium and its derivatives were transformed from a fully legal and highly lucrative commodity into one that was increasingly regulated and made illegal in a piecemeal fashion on a global scale. This propelled the transformation of Sephardi Jews involved in the opiates trade from communal elites in the late Ottoman Jewish world to men who skirted the edge of legality while still viewing their family businesses in opiates as licit. Examining Sephardi involvement in the global trade of opiates highlights how Sephardi history interplays with intersecting local and global histories of the narcotics trade as well as regulation, criminality, and migration. This cannot be understood without exploring how Jews and others were racialized in different regional contexts. This process of racialization was imbricated with perceptions and practices of Jewish criminality and other socially undesirable behavior, which threatened to cast Jewish migrants as transgressing the boundaries of acceptable citizenship.


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pp. 1-34
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