On islands, insularity, and opium poppies: Australia's secret pharmacy
Williams, S, On islands, insularity, and opium poppies: Australia's secret pharmacy, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28, (2) pp. 290-310. ISSN 0263-7758 (2010) [Refereed Article]
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Islands embody a contradictory geography. Although insularity has negative connotations, the related aspects of uniqueness, smallness, secrecy, security, isolation, and remoteness all have strategic roles in situating Australia's production of licit narcotics as an international success with poppy cultivation confined to the island state of Tasmania. Through the boundaries and dualisms inscribed in the discourses of islandness and drug rhetoric, the state's ultramodern manufacture of pharmaceuticals is contrasted with others elsewhere, including opium and illegal drug production. Their representations simplify the more intricate and challenging geopolitical realities that link this industry to transnational corporations, state and federal governments, their agencies, and various UN organisations. In a poststructural reading, the secrets of islands and drugs are suggested to comprise what Derrida terms aporia or impossible situations: Tasmania and its poppy industry are isolated from a global otherness yet entwine different peoples and places in connecting complex material practices both licit and illicit at multiple scales all around the world. However, these aporia also present new political and ethical openings with significance for island studies as well as for narcotics production and its regulation. © 2010 Pion Ltd and its Licensors.
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