Book project

This is a book about the earliest era of the global drug trade. The globalization of ‘Indies drugs’ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fundamentally altered the practices of scientists, merchants, and consumers in Europe and in zones of imperial contestation like the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa. The modern pharmaceutical industry and commerce in illegal drugs are Janus faces, both deriving from this earlier era when drugs first became global commodities. Although the early modern drug trade is largely forgotten today, its impact is felt in the legal regimes, scientific practices, and societal divides that continue to police the division between licit and illicit substances.
Forthcoming, November 2019.

Recent Publications

articles and book chapters

Res Obscura

I maintain a monthly newsletter with links to historical news and writing. The only selection criteria is that it’s for things I think are interesting and little-known. There’s also a blog.

Sign up for the Res Obscura newsletter

Recent & Upcoming Talks

Psychedelic Drugs in the Early Modern World
Oct 15, 2018 7:00 PM

Projects

Bunk

I’m currently the editor of the ‘Found’ section at Bunk, a new history site.

Journalism

A complete list of links to my journalism and popular writing.

Maps

I enjoy making historical maps. Here are a few, with more to come.

Res Obscura

My personal history blog, Res Obscura, started in 2010.

The Appendix

The Appendix was a journal of narrative and experimental history that was published from 2012 to 2015.

Teaching

In Winter Quarter, 2019, I will teach at UCSC:

  • HIS 151B: Drugs in World History
  • HIS 70A: Modern European History, 1500-1815

Contact

  • bebreen@ucsc.edu
  • Stevenson College, UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
  • On leave from teaching, Fall 2018