Isaac Campos

Isaac Peter Campos

Associate Professor

Professional Summary

Professor Campos teaches Latin American history. His main expertise is in modern Mexico and the history of illicit drugs. He is generally fascinated by the history of ideas, culture, and transnational phenomena. These interests are reflected in his book, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), which examines the development of marijuana's reputation for causing madness and violence in Mexico from the sixteenth century down to its nationwide prohibition in 1920. In the process, the book chronicles the development of prohibitionist approaches to drug use in Mexico and the origins of drug-war policies in that country. It also demonstrates how Mexican ideas of "reefer madness" deeply influenced how people came to understand this drug in the United States. He is currently at work on a history of illicit drugs in Mexico and greater North America between 1912 and 1940. Professor Campos has also worked for the National Security Archive where he did research on Mexico’s “dirty war” of the 1970s, Cuban-Mexican relations, and the War on Drugs since 1969. He teaches a variety of classes, from introductory surveys to graduate seminars.


Ph.D., Harvard University 2006

A.B., University of Michigan 1995

Abbreviated Publications

Peer Reviewed Publications

Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012)
“Mexicans and the Origins of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States: A Reassessment,” The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 32, no. (2018): 6-37.

“A Diplomatic Failure: The Mexican Role in the Demise of the 1940 Reglamento Federal de Toxicomanías,” Third World Quarterly, 39, no.2 (2018): 232-247.

“Toward a New Drug History of Latin America: A Research Frontier at the Center of Debates,” (with Paul Gootenberg), Hispanic American Historical Review, 95, no. 1 (Feb. 2015): 1-35.

“Degeneration and the Origins of the War on Drugs,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 26, no. 2 (2010): 379-408

Other Publication

"In Search of Real Reform: Lessons from Mexico's Long History of Drug Prohibition," NACLA Report on the Americas 44, no. 3 (2011): 14-18
“Mexico’s Illegal-Reefer Madness,” Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2009
“¡La Gente Manda!”, Nueva Época, no. 630–631 (2003): 32–40

Honors and Awards

"Best Book" Prize, New England Council of Latin American Studies, 2013

"Honorable Mention," Bryce Wood Book Award, Latin American Studies Association, 2013

Courses Taught

Latin American History Survey (3 parts)

The Mexican Revolution

Modern Mexico

Drugs in the Americas and in Historical Perspective

Topics in Latin American History (Graduate Seminar)

Other Information

Twitter: @isaac_campos,