Loyal to God, Loyal to Science: From Religious Temperance to Medicalized Anti-Alcoholism around the World, 18801950

AHA Session 128
Alcohol and Drugs History Society 3
Friday, January 4, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Hancock Parlor (Palmer House Hilton, Sixth Floor)
Nikolay Kamenov, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Emine Onhan Evered, Michigan State University
From Vice to Sickness: Temperance in the Balkans, 18901930
Nikolay Kamenov, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Global Dimensions of Temperance and Prohibition in 1920s Turkey
Emine Onhan Evered, Michigan State University
David T. Courtwright, University of North Florida

Session Abstract

Many features of modern temperance campaigns are traceable to late-18th and 19th century British and American evangelical revivals, and this includes struggles that emerged in non-Western societies, as well. For the new brand of Protestantism, the issue of alcohol became a recurrent theme marked by activist demonstrations, public sermons, and speeches. By the mid-19th century, missions implemented modern campaigns at global scales that utilized abundant printed word and visual materials. Towards the end of the century and in the beginning of the 20th, the temperance gospel disseminated by organizations like the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union started giving way to a new, scientific, and sometimes secular discourse targeting alcoholism. Emerging organizations such as the Independent Order of the Good Templars and the International Bureau against Alcoholism came to the forefront in the global fight against drinking. Oftentimes observable abroad, by the 1920s, social health concerns and national independence and/or rejuvenation projects already supplanted the underlying moral foundations of temperance, as well.

Viewed from alternative and non-Western perspectives, there was great diversity in the many world regional manifestations of this generalized story—along with many departures. Indeed, a globalized historical account of alcohol and anti-alcohol initiatives necessitates more contributions both from and on regions with connections to international activism; places that are otherwise rarely associated with temperance—or even drinking, for that matter. Such histories shed new light on the global movement's entanglements with broader social reform and political projects, including Western imperialism. Moreover, they help to dispel the stereotypes that prohibitionists often propagated upon their returns to Britain or the United States (e.g., the fallacy that "Muslims don’t drink"). Though religious and cultural contexts were disparate, continuities in the global influence of modernist public health reformers meant that many societies experienced comparable dalliances with not only temperance but also scientifically rationalized prohibitionism. Bringing together examples and analyses of actors and institutions imposing religious and medical pressures on non-Western societies (i.e., Indian, Bulgarian, and Turkish) to oppose alcohol and its consumption initiates comparative scholarship on these typically overlooked dimensions of temperance and anti-alcoholism.

See more of: AHA Sessions