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Bicho de sete cabeças: the criminalization of marijuana in Rio de Janeiro during the 1930s

Grant number: 17/21874-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): May 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Brazil
Principal researcher:Claudio Henrique de Moraes Batalha
Grantee:Thamires Regina Sarti Ribeiro Moreira
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/21979-5 - Between slavery and the burden of freedom: workers and forms of labor exploitation in historical perspective, AP.TEM


In the 1930s, marijuana was included in the list of narcotics to be controlled by the Brazilian government. The plant Cannabis, already spread throughout the country, was known by dozens of different names and used in social contexts such as candomblé rituals, dance clubs, the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and the treatment of patients in hospices. The legislative measure separated legitimate uses from illegitimate ones, guaranteeing the monopoly of scientific medicine on its applications and persecution to the others. In addition to a series of other racist formulations of the period, intellectuals of the ruling attributed their illegitimate uses to the country's black population, indicating who would pay the costs of the new policy. This research intends to verify the implications of these formulations in the repression that was instituted during the decade of 1930, having as framework the observation of the unfolding of this criminalization in the city of Rio de Janeiro, pointed by the historiography as place of origin of the first legal determination against the use of marijuana and also as a stage of intense persecution of black population in the post-abolition period. The focus of the analysis will be the experience of the people who were the victims of the new repressive policy as soon as it was instituted, who were the criminalized people in that first moment, how was this persecution intertwined with other policies of control of the black population in force, in which ways the persecuted people reacted to these interventions and what are the ramifications of these campaigns in the uses and attribution of meanings by their consumers and by the population in general. It is believed that the intersection between the bibliography on black culture in the post-abolition period, the prohibitionist literature and other sources of the period possibilitate the understanding of the meanings collectively attributed to the diamba by the popular classes, meanings which eugenist writers insisted on ignoring, reducing the observed gestures to clinical signs of delay. (AU)

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