S.10 E.8: “How Do You Get Criminal Justice with Justice?”

Learning for Life @ Gustavus podcast host Greg Kaster interviews Gustavus sociology and anthropology professor Suzanne Wilson.
Posted on October 26th, 2021 by

Professor Suzanne Wilson of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Gustavus on her liberal arts education, becoming a sociologist and the essentials of her discipline, her research on U.S. drug policy and Colombia as well as Colombian paramilitary groups and organized crime, the transnational “cocaine commodity supply chain,” the liberal arts approach to criminology at Gustavus, her courses and why they keep her interested, and the case for studying sociology and anthropology.

Season 10, Episode 8: “How Do You Get Criminal Justice with Justice?”

Greg Kaster:

Hello and welcome to Learning for Life @ Gustavus, the podcast about people teaching and learning at Gustavus Adolphus College. In a myriad of ways, a Gustavus liberal arts education provides a lasting foundation for lives of fulfillment and purpose. I’m your host, Greg Kaster, a faculty member in the Department of History.

One of my favorite quotes about sociology attributed to Émile Durkheim asserts that “There is no sociology worthy of the name which does not possess a historical character.” My guest today I am sure would agree. Dr. Suzanne Wilson is Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Gustavus where she’s taught since 1998. Professor Wilson majored in sociology and history as an undergraduate at Henderson State University in Arkansas, and went on to earn her MA and PhD degrees in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I have always loved history,” she says, “And provide historical context for all my research and classes.” At Gustavus, Suzanne teaches her department’s capstone research seminar as well as courses on social inequality, criminology, drugs and society, women crime and criminal justice, globalization, and kinship, marriage, and human sexuality.

She’s also involved in several campus interdisciplinary programs, including Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, and Latin American and Latinx and Caribbean Studies. Her scholarship focuses primarily on how U.S. drug policy has perpetuated social inequality, both within this country and between it and Colombia, as well as on organized crime and right-wing paramilitary groups in the latter nation.

Her research has resulted in numerous scholarly publications and presentations, including the excellent articles, “Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy and War,” and “Cocaine, Commodity Chains, and Drug Politics: A Transnational Approach,” co-authored with Colombian anthropologist Marta Zambrano.

Away from Gustavus, she has been a visiting scholar at the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Suzanne’s areas of interest and expertise bear directly on our current historical moment in all kinds of interesting and illuminating ways. And I’m delighted she could join me on the podcast. So welcome, Suzanne. It’s great to have you on.

Suzanne Wilson:

It’s a pleasure to be here and thanks for giving me a chance to be part of the podcast.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, absolutely. I know, like with so many colleagues, we talk a little bit in passing, but we rarely have time, it’s strange, we rarely have time or we rarely make the time to sit down and talk at length about our work, and so it’s a pleasure. Thanks for making the time. So you are currently on leave. You, like me, were teaching during the pandemic. What was that like? How did it go? Were you in person, hybrid, all online?

Suzanne Wilson:

I did all of the above. First, we all went online, as anyone involved with Gustavus knows, in March 2020. And then in the fall, I did hybrid with two in-person courses and then one online once a week, and then I went back to online in the spring. And it was difficult. I don’t think there’s any good way really to teach during the pandemic.

And So I think the hardest part for me was the in-person because there were some people who were still online for various reasons and some people in-person, and it was very difficult teaching both modalities simultaneously. And it was also difficult to get the students to interact, the ones who were online with the ones in class. So I’m just glad it seems to be winding down.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, same here. Things went reasonably well, actually, quite well considering I thought I was all online. But still, nothing like being in person. In a way, I hope I don’t have to do some hybrid because the technical aspects of trying to teach to students in the class and then people who are online, I don’t know how that’s going to go. But anyway, yes, here’s to the Delta variant not sabotaging our return in the fall. Well, you’ll be on leave, so you won’t have to worry too much about that, but let’s hope.

So, I know you grew up in Arkansas, but tell us a little bit about that, about your background growing up, where you grew up in Arkansas, what your parents did, how you got interested in sociology, all the above. I mentioned you went to Henderson State and you can tell us a little bit about that as well.

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, I’m from Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it’s a national park. It’s also the boyhood home of ex-president Bill Clinton. It’s an unusual national park because a national park is actually part of the city. And the big industries there are tourists, retirees, and timber. And I pretty much come from a family of teachers. And so, for years, I was really actually in grad school. I did a lot of research, but then I discovered I like to teach like the rest of my family. Seriously, everyone in my family is either a teacher or married to a teacher.

And I went to a public liberal arts school, kind of like the University of Minnesota, Morris. And as you said in the introduction, I was a double major in history and sociology. And I took a lot of classes in a lot of fields like any good liberal arts school will have you do. I liked history actually because I liked the profs. And I liked sociology.

When I took my first sociology class, we were talking about social policy. I’m like, “Wow, these are the things I like to talk about all the time. Now I’m in a class and I get credit for it.” And so I was really interested in both fields. And I applied to grad schools with good historical sociology programs. It’s ironic, I actually decided to go in sociology because I liked studying people in real-world settings instead of the archives. But I ended up studying U.S. drug policy, which involved a lot of archive work.

Greg Kaster:

Exactly.

Suzanne Wilson:

[inaudible 00:06:18]. So ironically. And then I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and sociology, and they had a very strong historical and comparative sociology program there, which is one of the reasons I applied there and I fell in love with their library. They have the fifth largest library in the U.S.

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Suzanne Wilson:

Anyway, when I was there, shortly when I began, I became friends with many people from Brazil and Colombia, and I went to study abroad in Colombia early in my grad school career and decided I wanted to do what was then called Latin American and Caribbean Studies. They didn’t have the Latinx back then. And I decided… I went to study abroad in Colombia and I just fell in love with the country.

Greg Kaster:

Where were you? What part of Colombia were you?

Suzanne Wilson:

I was in Bogotá, the capital. And I took courses at a university what’s called the los Andes University, or Universidad de los Andes. I took Spanish. And I also had a chance to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in a low-income neighborhood. So I guess you could say I am a Nobel Peace Prize winner because in the late ’90s, I think it was 1999, Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize, so I’m one of 20,000 other people.

Greg Kaster:

Congratulations.

Suzanne Wilson:

Oh, thank you.

Greg Kaster:

Let’s back up a little bit. This is all very interesting to me. Were both your parents teachers? It sounds like. And were they high school teachers or college or LN?

Suzanne Wilson:

Actually, my dad was an engineer and he worked in the military, but his father was a teacher, a geography and history teacher actually. And his sister, his only sister was a teacher, and two of her kids became teachers.

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Suzanne Wilson:

And so, like I said, everybody is either a teacher or married to a teacher.

Greg Kaster:

That’s funny. Did you know Henderson State was the place to go to because, “Oh, I want to be…” I mean, I didn’t know what the liberal arts were, I didn’t know what they meant when I was selecting. What led you there?

Suzanne Wilson:

No, I didn’t really know it was the liberal arts. I just knew I didn’t want a big university setting, that really wasn’t for me. And it was the right size school. It was just something I ended up there by luck, I would have to say. I wasn’t saying, “Oh, I want a public liberal arts school.” But once I was in the liberal arts setting, I really took to it, I really loved it.

Greg Kaster:

The other thing that I think is neat, you mentioned historical sociology, can you define that? Or actually, to do a couple of things for us, define what is sociology. Let’s just have you tell us what that is. And then is historical sociology kind of a sub-field or sub-area? And what that involves.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah, well here’s the definition of sociology: sociology is the study of social life. And sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. And so since all human behavior is social, sociology is a pretty broad discipline.

But in my view, there are three things that are the heart of sociology: the study of social inequality, the impact of social institutions on people’s lives, and the opportunities they do or do not have. And then the ability to see things from other groups’ perspectives. I hope that’s not too jargon-filled.

Greg Kaster:

No. No, not at all. And then what is historical sociology?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, it’s kind of like what is history? It’s just like you’re studying social life in the past.

Greg Kaster:

In the past okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

And in my opinion, I don’t think you can study anything and not study history.

Greg Kaster:

Well, I’m not going to disagree with that. Yeah, I agree, absolutely. Go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Many historians have said if you don’t understand the past, you can’t understand the present nor the future, so like the reggae song by Ziggy Marley.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, yeah. I love it.

Suzanne Wilson:

You don’t know your future.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. That’s excellent. Yeah, no. Again, preaching to the choir here. Gosh, I don’t know what, if it’s in the last 15… I don’t know. Certainly now, I am so interested in the ways in which history can and should inform public policymaking and thinking. And I loved the one sociology class I took. I went to Northern Illinois University, big state school, not as big as Urbana-Champaign, but anyway.

And then I took a social class. I can still remember the class. I remember the professor. It seemed like several hundred students, big auditorium. Loved it, just absolutely loved it. It was, I think, in graduate school when I maybe… Or maybe it’s in undergraduate, first read C. Wright Mills, which I also love, The Power Elite and some of his other work.

So I just like the idea of how history and sociology work together in some, I think, natural ways and the way you’ve been able to do that in your own work, even in your own training. Correct me if I’m wrong, at Urbana-Champaign, you were focusing on, for your PhD work, the Colombian middle class. Tell us a little bit about that work.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah, I did. I focused on the Colombian middle class because when I studied abroad, I lived with a middle-class family and I knew middle-class people. And that was very important work for me, but I quickly changed along the way to focusing on U.S. drug policy in Colombia. If you want, I can tell you the story, how I got interested in that.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. That’s actually my next question. Proceed, please. Absolutely.

Suzanne Wilson:

It was once again, kind of happenstance. Myself and Marta Zambrano, that you mentioned in the introduction, the Colombian anthropologist, we were both friends with the outreach officer for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And we knew she was going to hit us up to do this luncheon. We had this luncheon series of talks, they called it Brown Bag Series.

And so Marta was going, “You know, Suzanne, you’re always complaining about the stereotypes of Colombia and the drugs. Why don’t we just do a presentation on it? Since we’re going to have to do a presentation on something.” And so that really started it. And I became really quickly intrigued by U.S. drug policy both within the U.S. and also between Colombia. And to me, U.S. drug policy… Well, first of all, this was in 1988 we’re talking about.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Yeah.

Suzanne Wilson:

It was quickly clear to me it was becoming a key mechanism of social inequality in the criminal justice system. It’s not the only one, there’s many of them, but it was a key one. And this was when all these bills that had mandatory minimums of crack cocaine disparity were being passed.

And so it quickly became clear to me it was something involving within the U.S. but also between the United States and Colombia and reproducing inequality there between the two countries. So to me, it was a way of looking at my interest of social inequality in Colombia and seeing how drug policy was reproducing inequality.

Greg Kaster:

I find that’s also not just interesting, but incredibly important, the work. So many historians and sociologists working on the so-called carceral state now in the U.S. and elsewhere, I’ve read just a little bit of that. But I wonder, I’ve studied in Mexico when I was an undergraduate and just loved it when I was, I guess, a junior. Never been south of Mexico.

I confess, when I think of Colombia, certainly in the past at least, I just think of the FARC. Right? The paramilitary group and drugs. I wonder if you could say a bit more about how U.S. drug policy in the late ’80s and beyond was working to, the word you used, to instantiate. You didn’t use that word, but social inequality in Colombia, what’s the connection?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Well, it’s a complex question. And also, I’m going to locate it in the historical period because what was going on in 1988 is very different than what’s going on now.

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Suzanne Wilson:

Although the inequality is still being reproduced. But the way I looked at it was two ways. First of all, the people who earn the most in the illegal cocaine trade are the people who are less affected by the policy, and the people who earn the least are the people who are most effected.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

And also, if you look at the inequality between countries, who gets the most profits, most of the profits stay in the U.S. because most of the markup in the price of cocaine occurs in the U.S. or in Europe or Japan, but it doesn’t occur within Colombia. So the policy, how it affected different people… And if I go on too long, please tell me because this is a whole lecture.

Greg Kaster:

No, no, no, no. Keep going. Keep going. That’s okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

In Colombia, there has been a lot of aerial eradication, which means herbicides are sprayed on coca plants which are in the Amazon jungle region mostly. There’s some other parts, but mostly in very biodiverse regions. And also, people live there. And these herbicides don’t just kill the plants, the coca plants, they kill legal crops, they kill fish, they kill chicken. And people actually have a lot of allergic reactions to them. The main chemical in the herbicide is the same thing used in Roundup.

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Suzanne Wilson:

And there’s been a lot of lawsuits about that, but anyway.

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Suzanne Wilson:

So they’re the people most likely affected within Colombia, whereas the large-time smugglers, and now Mexico is involved, those people are least likely to be effected by the policy. And same within the U.S., the people most likely to be arrested are the street dealers because they’re the ones that are visible, not the private dealers like in dormitory rooms or in apartments, but the street dealers. They’re the ones most likely to be arrested.

The big-time dealers, it’s much more difficult for law enforcement to find out who they are and get the evidence. And also, because of the inequality in the criminal justice system in general, if you have money, it’s much harder to… You’re much less likely to go to jail. So that’s sort of a brief overview, but back to Colombia and what you’re saying about the FARC and the paramilitaries.

The FARC was a guerrilla group, and they’ve since demobilized in 2016. But in the ’80s, they weren’t that involved in the drug trade. Now, they have become. So that’s why the historical period is really important. But a U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Lewis Tambs, during the 1980s, was linking all the drug trade to the FARC, which was really totally inaccurate. And it was a very controversial thing within Colombia because actually, most of the drug dealers then were like Pablo Escobar, the Medellín, and Cali, drug organizations.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

And they weren’t linked to the guerrillas at all. In fact, they hated the guerrillas because drug dealers, although they work in illegal goods, are good capitalists, and good capitalists don’t like revolutionaries. And so at that point, so Pablo Escobar and the Cali drug organization and the other Medellín people eventually were either killed or put in jail.

And in their place arose people from the secondary ranks, but they were also closely related to a right-wing politically violent group called the paramilitaries. They were so intertwined, it’s impossible to separate them. And the paramilitaries really terrorized Colombia. Well, they started in the early ’80s and they terrorized them till they disbanded in 2006. It was a government demobilization.

And there were tens of thousands of people killed and many massacres. The figure usually given is from the late ’70s until 2006, 200,000 people were killed.

Greg Kaster:

Good Lord.

Suzanne Wilson:

But that includes people killed by the guerrillas. What?

Greg Kaster:

I said Good Lord. Wow.

Suzanne Wilson:

I know. But most of like 70-80% of the killings were done by paramilitaries, and that also includes drug trafficking. So it’s all very intertwined. So that’s a brief overview.

Greg Kaster:

Were these paramilitaries informally state-sponsored or were they linked to the government in any way?

Suzanne Wilson:

That is the exact subject of my research.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

Actually, I think they’re a hybrid group. If you look at the literature on right-wing politically violent groups, they’re either considered to be like vigilantes or state terrorism. And actually, the paramilitaries were both. They were independent of the state, which made the state less accountable, but they had tremendous support from the state security forces. So, for example, the state security forces conveniently weren’t around when the paramilitaries would do a massacre. And very rarely were they ever caught. What?

Greg Kaster:

And so the paramilitaries, were they actually involved in the drug trade, the cocaine trade? Or they were just siphoning off money? Or how did it work?

Suzanne Wilson:

They were actually involved. They were the main drug traffickers in the 1990s and the 2000s. In fact, after they demobilized, they still controlled the drug trade. It was just a reformed group. They were called… Well, they’ve been called various names by the Colombian government. They keep changing the name. But probably the most common name until recently was something called the BACRIM, which is let’s see, Armed Criminal Organized Crime Band something.

But they were the main drug traffickers. I mean, there were some drug traffickers that were paramilitaries and there were some paramilitaries that weren’t drug traffickers, but the overlap was so intertwined. And the biggest drug traffickers were paramilitaries.

Greg Kaster:

And was the U.S. position… You mentioned the ambassador. Was the U.S. position that it’s really FARC that’s involved in the drug trade?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. That was [inaudible 00:20:57] in the ’80s, and I would say even into the ’90s and 2000s.

Greg Kaster:

Say a little bit more about FARC, what the guerrilla group was seeking.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Well, they’ve changed. This once again is where history is important, Greg, because where you’re talking about the FARC historically, and they were heterogeneous, but they were the largest guerrilla group from… Even the date of their founding is controversial. But they were a Marxist guerrilla group that probably, well, started in the 1960s. Some people put them earlier and some later.

And they originally started out as saying, “We want to open up the political system and the only way we can do this is through violence.” And they had their roots, there had been a civil war in the 1940s and ’50s, and they had their roots in the civil war and what happened there. But if I start talking about that, that’s a whole nother podcast.

But anyway, the FARC had controlled large parts of the country, some people say as much as 25-30% during the ’80s, but they controlled a large part of the country without a doubt.

Greg Kaster:

Mostly in the countryside or in cities too?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah, they were mostly in the countryside.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

There were some urban guerrilla groups, but most of the guerrillas, there were various guerrilla groups actually, and some of them… A whole nother bunch of them demobilized in the early ’90s, but the FARC didn’t demobilize till 2016. And originally, they weren’t that involved with the drug trade because they considered it to be capitalism.

But over time, now I’m talking about the 1990s, 2000s, especially in the 2000s, some of their individual units, brigades, became more involved with the drug trade. And so when they demobilized in 2016, most of their soldiers went into camps and didn’t have anything to do with the drug trade, but a small percentage of them did continue on dealing drugs.

And also during the 2010s after the paramilitaries demobilized, although they had been deadly enemies with the guerrillas before demobilization, they started working together in the drug trade, so yeah. That’s why I say the historical period is very important.

Greg Kaster:

Right. The context is so important. So many things are occurring to me, just listening to you, that are important and hard to comprehend. For one, one thing, the war on drugs or the war on cocaine is an environmental disaster, right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

With the herbicide and the upending affecting people’s not only individual health, but their food supply, everything. Then the way in which… This seems to be so often the case in U.S. policy, and correct me if I’m wrong, but kind of oversimplifying things. Not understanding what FARC is really doing, right? Or linking them to the drug problem in ways they weren’t, at least early on.

So there are those issues. And then there’s the whole paramilitary history that you’re talking about. So they disband in 2016, and then what? Where are we at today in Colombia? Because I’ve been reading just a little bit… Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

Sorry.

Greg Kaster:

Go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

My apologies. The paramilitaries disbanded in 2006. [crosstalk 00:24:39].

Greg Kaster:

Oh, in 2006. FARC is 2016. That’s right. I don’t know enough about the situation in Colombia today, right now. I’ve talked a little bit with our colleague, Carlos [inaudible 00:24:51], who’s in Spanish and from there. But what is the situation? Only just the other day I was reading something about new protests in the country, but go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Well, the situation is still very, very complicated. Like I said, the paramilitaries disbanded in 2006 and part of them returned to civil life, but a lot of them continued on in organized crime. The FARC, there’s been a lot of problems with the peace process and that’s really a complex issue, all what’s going on there. But it’s been very hard because there’s a divide within Colombia.

Some people thought the peace process was good and some people thought it was very bad. And so that has led to a series of divides among the government who’s been in charge, the presidents. The current president is quite conservative and he thinks all the FARC is very, very bad. He’s labeled a lot of the protesters as guerrillas, which they aren’t. They’re just protestors.

So the protests have been about many, many different things; the social inequality. COVID also has been an issue because they didn’t get [inaudible 00:26:12].

Greg Kaster:

Oh, sure.

Suzanne Wilson:

Another thing going on with the… And education funding. There was a tax that the minister of finance put on the people of Colombia because of COVID because of economic losses and people complained that it was falling on them. So there were a lot of complaints and there had been a lot of protests before COVID. And so this just erupted in protest recently. And there was also the behavior of the Colombian police has been very controversial.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, I’ve read a little about that. Again, thinking of parallels in our own country recently, where President Trump and others denouncing, basically calling protestors terrorists and the police response. Yeah. What about that? There’s police violence as part of the repression. Is the country still as violent as I think it was in the early 2000s, 1990s?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Well, the thing about the violence is you see that about Colombia, most of the country is not violent and most Colombians aren’t violent. It’s just a very small group, first of all. Just like with the drug trade, most Colombians have nothing to do with the drug trade.

I think the violence has not gone away. There’s still been a lot of killings of social activists and community leaders. And a lot of them… People now will say in the press, it’s done by the paramilitaries. I think what they’re really referring to is these armed criminal groups I talked about earlier, BACRIM. A lot of times, they work closely with elites too, and sometimes even the military.

That’s one source of violence is the killing of the social leaders. There’s also been a number of protestors killed by police squads. And in Colombia, the police are under the military.

Greg Kaster:

I did read that. That’s right.

Suzanne Wilson:

[crosstalk 00:28:13] yeah, controls both. But there’s been a lot of killings by the protesters, and there’s a lot of people still missing too, so it’s been very sad.

Greg Kaster:

That’s awful. Yeah, it is sad. It’s awful. So when you talk about organized crime, the way some of the paramilitary people went into organized crime, is it organized crime primarily around drugs or is it more complicated than that?

Suzanne Wilson:

It’s mostly drugs, though there’s all sorts of organized crime. It’s diversified over the years. It’s a lot of illegal mining for gold. There is money laundering, which is part of the drug trade, but it’s part of any… Now they’re into more like giving small loans to people like loansharking. There’s all sorts of… Oh, siphoning of gasoline. Colombia is a big oil producer. There’s many other things they do, but the primary source of their income is still drugs.

Greg Kaster:

Drugs. Okay. So the other work you’ve done is on… This is all related, I realize. But this article you co-authored on Cocaine Commodity Chains. You took what you call a transnational approach. And now in the history discipline, there has been, for a while, what is called the transnational turn. But tell us first about that approach, what that approach was. And then also, what do you mean what is a cocaine commodity chain?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Let me begin with the cocaine commodity chain and then I’ll get to the transnational approach, though I guess I could start with either one.

Greg Kaster:

No, that’s fine.

Suzanne Wilson:

The cocaine commodity chain is like a supply chain. It’s so funny, just to digress for a moment. I teach a globalization class and students usually go like, unless they’re econ business majors, they’re usually like, “Why are we learning this?” But with COVID they were like, “Oh, please tell us more about supply chain.”

Greg Kaster:

Oh, yes, supply chains. They’re on our minds now. Right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. But a commodity chain is like a supply chain that any good has other things that go into producing it, like your shoes have plastic and the shoestrings, etc. So does cocaine, it has a lot of inputs. And so it’s a way of looking at cocaine being produced as a good, only just an illegal good.

And then also, the transnational approach was a way for me to look at… Or Marta and I both to look at inequality within the U.S. and also between the cocaine-consuming countries like the U.S. and the cocaine-producing countries like Colombia, or even the coca-producing countries like Peru and Bolivia.

Greg Kaster:

Did you look outside Latin America as well or not?

Suzanne Wilson:

No, because coca, which is the plant, has 64 alkaloids, one of which is cocaine. Actually, some of its other alkaloids are used in Coca-Cola.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Right. That’s right.

Suzanne Wilson:

Coca-cola doesn’t like to… That’s why it has the name “Coca” in there. Anyway, that’s another story.

Greg Kaster:

That’s right.

Suzanne Wilson:

[inaudible 00:31:17]. But it has all these alkaloids. And this is also a pitch for the liberal arts because when I had to take chemistry with my liberal arts, I did not know I’d be using it when I studied cocaine.

Greg Kaster:

Perfect.

Suzanne Wilson:

But anyway, there’s 64 alkaloids, one of which is cocaine, and you have to extract it and you need certain chemicals. And the chemicals are not usually produced in Latin America. But also, coca is very ecologically specific. It’s not like opium, which is a plant that produces opium poppies, which leads to heroin eventually, or other opioids.

But it is very specific geographically to Latin America and the type of coca plants that you can easily extract the cocaine alkaloid from. And I know this is getting technical.

Greg Kaster:

No, I want to hear more. Actually, I want to ask you more about that. We’ve got farmers in Colombia who are growing… I guess, say a little bit more about how the commodity chain works. So they’re growing the plants, right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah, they’re growing the plants. And also in Peru and Bolivia.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. But are they doing the extracting as well or is that done somewhere else by some other people? How does it work?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, there’s two processes. It’s a two-part extraction. The first part is taking all the leaves, because you just pick the leaves on the plant. And by the way, coke is a weed. It’s so ironic because when you spray for coca, it’s the first plant that comes back.

Greg Kaster:

I did not know that.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. It’s like Creeping Charlie. Anyway, but coca is made into a paste. And usually, that’s done either by the farmers or somebody nearby.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

And that’s easily done. You just need some kerosene and some kind of fertilizer that will help get it out. Anyway, like I tell my students, I don’t give any recipes. But anyway, then after that it’s sold to drug-trafficking organizations and they get these chemicals such as acetone or methyl ethyl that are needed to extract the cocaine from the paste.

And the reason the farmers don’t do that is these chemicals are very expensive and they’re not produced very often in Latin America, so they have to be imported as a rule. And those are produced actually in the U.S., India, and Western Europe now. And so you have to have… And they are controlled substances, so you have to either pay a bribe or have fake paperwork like you have a leather factory, because some of these things are used for legitimate reasons. Acetone is part of fingernail polish remover, it’s used into making leather.

And so that’s why the farmers don’t do that because they don’t have the money or the connections to get the chemicals. And then from there, it has to be transported to the cocaine-consuming country. So the cocaine is produced in laboratories in Colombia as a rule.

Greg Kaster:

It’s so interesting. I’m imagining the farmer grows the plants, does the process involving kerosene that you were mentioning, and then what? Is there some kind of middle go-between between the drug traffickers and the farmer, to whom the farmer sells or works with?

Suzanne Wilson:

Usually, the farmer sells to somebody who works for one of the drug traffickers.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

One of the organizations.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Go ahead. No, go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

Back in the ’80s, the Colombian organizations were transporting to the U.S. Now, Mexican organizations mostly transport it. So the Colombians will sell to the Mexicans in terms of the U.S. In Europe, the Colombians are still doing most of the exporting.

Greg Kaster:

It’s amazing too to me. I didn’t really think much about this, but just how global this is, right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

The global… If you need the acetone… It encompasses so much of the world. In a way, like cars, right? Where are these different parts made or assembled wherever they’re assembled, that turn into an automobile. So the farmer, I assume, is not making much money for growing the crop.

Suzanne Wilson:

No.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. And are these farmers, are they growing much more than they would otherwise be? What would they be doing if there weren’t this cocaine trade? What would they be growing? How much cocoa would they be growing, if any?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, usually, the farmers are really in the jungle, not always, but they’re in not very populated parts of the country. And usually, they would be growing legal crops. But the thing is they get much more money for growing coca than they do for legal crops.

Anthropologists have actually done studies of this. Growing legal crops, they would probably get about $500 or $600 a hectare. A hectare is a little less than two acres. For growing coca, they would probably get anywhere depending on the prices, a couple of thousand dollars, maybe up to $6,000, but usually, it’s just a couple of thousand dollars a year. And also, coca is a great crop because it doesn’t need fertilizer, it doesn’t need herbicides because it’s a weed.

Greg Kaster:

Ah, yeah.

Suzanne Wilson:

And so for them, they don’t have to buy these inputs.

Greg Kaster:

Sure.

Suzanne Wilson:

And they also don’t have to transport it to market because the drug-trafficking organizations come to them.

Greg Kaster:

Is the focus of the U.S. drug policy been simply to… The focus of it, to eradicate a plant at the point of where it’s growing? Is that the idea with the herbicides or is it more-

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. That’s the historical… From the very beginning, the idea has been to stop the supply because if you stop the supply, you drive up the price in theory.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

But that hasn’t happened. And also, it’s very difficult to stop the supply because say you eradicate coca in a county, well, it just moves somewhere else because the farmers, like I just said a minute ago, they’re going to be growing it because they need the money and they can make more money. And even though they’re not making that much, they’re making more than they would otherwise.

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Suzanne Wilson:

And it’s just something called the balloon effect. And you see it throughout the cocaine commodity chain. Anytime you displace something, it just pops up somewhere else, like if you punched down on a balloon.

Greg Kaster:

Is the drug policy still, with respect to cocaine in Colombia and Bolivia, is it basically still that what you’ve just described? Or has it evolved at all? Has it become any saner and more effective?

Suzanne Wilson:

Sadly, it hasn’t evolved because the idea is, if you start, you try to control the supply, then you try to keep it from getting smuggled in the country, which is difficult because we have large borders. And also, you don’t have to corrupt a whole border patrol or police, you just have to pay one person not to look for five minutes.

And most cocaine actually, and heroin as well, are smuggled within legal goods. That’s the best way to get it… Well, not the best way, but that’s the most effective way that drug traffickers have come up. So it’s intermixed with fish or flowers or some kind of goods. And there’s also deniability, the owners of these legal goods can say, “We don’t know. We don’t know how it ended up there.” And so it’s very hard to control that.

And so then if that doesn’t work, you go after the dealers, but it’s very hard to identify them and get enough evidence to prosecute them. And so what happens is the people who are dealing, the low-level dealers are the ones that end up going to prison. Then you get into the U.S. side of that whole inequality.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

But if you look at the people who are most affected by the drug policy, it’s the people at the two ends, either the dealers, especially the street-level dealers, or the farmers. But about policy evolving, I see some change in the U.S. more and more. I think it’s up to 36 states have medical marijuana. There’s a lot of variants in those laws. And I think 18 states now have some kind of recreational marijuana.

So there’s some change in the marijuana area and that’s actually what most people get prosecuted for. But it’s still… The policy I don’t think has evolved that much. I wish I could tell you otherwise. At least not internationally.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. So it’s both ineffective if the goal is to stop this, to disrupt, stop the commodity chain, and then it’s also punishing the people who benefit from it the least. Yeah, not good. Not good. It seems like madness to me, especially when I think about the money that’s been spent, right? And the money that is… You know more about this than I do, but the money that’s funneled into, well, the Colombian military or Bolivia, whatever. To U.S support, right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

It’s madness. The other thing you’ve worked on, which I just know a tiny bit about, I want to hear more about [inaudible 00:40:31], it sounds also sad, is the war on street children. And you’ve researched that and written about that. Talk to us a little bit about your work on that and what that war is about.

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, there were a lot of hate crime killings against street children. And actually, a lot of them were done by paramilitary groups, but some of them also were done by local vigilante groups or sometimes the two worked together. It’s a very, very sad phenomenon, but the thing that intrigued me is how can people kill children?

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Suzanne Wilson:

It’s hard to imagine killing anyone, but especially children, because people would talk about them. And this gets back to my work on the middle class. People I interviewed in Colombia who were great, nice, wonderful people and then they say, “Oh, these kids are just pests.”

It’s like, how do you make into the other children? And that’s what that article was about, was how they were de-humanized and made into others so that you could kill them. And it has a parallel with the guerrillas or the terrorists because whenever you make someone into the other, or the military is making these protesters in Colombia into the other, then you can kill them.

I don’t think people can harm other people without making them into other or dehumanizing them. And that’s what that article was about, how you’ve de-humanized street children.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. And that happens in war, as we know. Happened in the U.S. civil war on both sides. Is the Colombian government doing anything? Is the war against these kids still going on, the killings?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. The war against these kids still is going on. As far as I know, the government isn’t doing anything. Some of these kids, there’s now adults who… Some of the kids have grown up to be adults street… I guess you would say homeless population. And they sometimes have protests, but it’s still going on. It just has gotten eclipsed by all the other things going on within the country that I talked about earlier.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Yeah. It’s so sad. And I agree with you. I think about that even in this country, right? School shootings and these little kids. It’s just so, so sad. Now, you’ve done some field research. I want to hear a little bit more about that, what that’s been like. What does that involve? Are you talking to paramilitary people? Are you talking to FARC? Are you talking to drug dealers? What are you doing in the field?

Suzanne Wilson:

No, I’m not talking to them.

Greg Kaster:

Good.

Suzanne Wilson:

Because I don’t think it’s such a good idea.

Greg Kaster:

Good.

Suzanne Wilson:

This is, like I said earlier, is an irony because I’ve ended up doing a lot of archival research and going and talking to a lot of people who work for non-governmental organizations who collect statistics on human rights and academics and people who work for the UN and collect their data. So I’ve interviewed a lot of people with different organizations and policymakers and academics. And for the street children, I actually did interview street children and middle-class Colombians.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, yes. Yeah.

Suzanne Wilson:

That was actually more direct fieldwork. But I kind of look at… This is where the training as a historian, as a history major, as an undergrad was so useful because historians have to evaluate evidence very carefully.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. Right.

Suzanne Wilson:

And you distinguish between primary and secondary sources, but also, what is this source telling you and what isn’t it telling you and how to put all these things together.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

And so that has really helped me a lot with my drug research. And it’s also a pitch for the liberal arts.

Greg Kaster:

Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s so true about… We’re as interested in who produced the source, when, where, why, for what audience, to the extent that we can [inaudible 00:44:19]. And then also, as you just said, the silences, right? What’s not there? Because the silences can also be really revealing.

Boy, yeah. This is all great. It’s just you’re making me very happy listening to you talk about primary and secondary sources and history. So the current work is, tell us a little bit more about that. You mentioned earlier when I asked a question that that is your current work, the connections or lack of connections, the relationship between paramilitary and the government. That’s your sabbatical work it sounds like.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. I want to write a book about the paramilitaries and also, their hybrid form and their connections to organized crime. And I’ve done a lot of conference papers over the years. I broke it down into historical periods. Once again, the history training. So I want to look at the different historical periods and how they changed, and then the immediate period after they demobilized in 2006.

And really just to point out, organized crime, people think of it as something so far from us, but it’s really interconnected to many things, including… Well, it’s because when I was talking about Colombia or the drug trade, sorry, the cocaine, you have legal sector inputs. It’s not like it’s separate. And I think looking at this [inaudible 00:45:41] paramilitary violence, you can’t look at it as something separate.

And I think the complexity of the state intrigues me, that it’s not heterogeneous. Parts of the Colombian state will go after people and parts of the Colombian state will try to help people. And I think that’s true in the U.S. as well when you look at the criminal justice system.

Greg Kaster:

Yes, definitely. Yeah. Again, preparing for the podcast today and also listening to you now, the parallel, there are some striking and scary or alarming parallels I think. Heaven forbid, but we move in this country, I’m thinking of the January 6th insurrection, of course, our attempted coup to paramilitary groups. Well, some of which we have, and their relationship to the state or encouragement from a sitting president and/or members of a political party.

The other thing that I think is incredibly important is what you just said about your current interest is the legal inputs and that this stuff, which I hadn’t really thought about. Like a lot of people, I think of drug trade, it’s all illegal. But no, there are legal inputs. And even the paramilitary, you can’t just say they’re extra-legal only, it’s more complicated than that, apart from the complications of a government that’s moving in more than one direction with respect to all of these issues.

Let’s move away from the research for a bit and talk about how you came to Gustavus. I don’t know about you. I’d not heard of Gustavus. I don’t think I’d heard of St. Olaf either growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. When I found out it produced James M. McPherson and Sydney Ahlstrom, two great historians, I was, “Yes. I’m all in.” Had you heard of it? What led you to apply to Gustavus? How did you get the job?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, I applied to Gustavus and I hadn’t really heard of it either to be honest. But I was looking for the teaching load and I wanted a job that had a decent teaching load. But they had in their ad, they wanted someone who could teach and who studied social inequality and criminology. And I was like, “Well, that’s me.”

And I didn’t know if they wanted someone who could teach those two courses or who wanted to talk about the links. And actually, the department wanted both. And so I applied and I fit their bill. And so I was really glad to come because there is a liberal arts approach to criminology and criminal justice, which is really unusual because a lot of times criminal justice ends up being police programs.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

Don Christenson had that… Ron Christenson had that wonderful view of the liberal arts and criminal justice. And so that’s what drew me to Gustavus. And I was happy, very happy to be in the liberal arts setting because it’s so much of who I am.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Yeah. And Ron Christenson, who was a force in the political science department for a long time at Gustavus. Again, I think what you just said is important because the way it’s done at Gustavus, in fact, I’d like you to say a little bit more about that liberal arts approach to criminology, what that involves, it’s not just a pre-professional or a vo-tech program. So tell us a little bit about what a liberal arts approach to criminology looks like.

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, I think a liberal arts approach, you can’t approach crime or criminals from one discipline. It’s impossible. You need many disciplines. You need psychology, look at all the mental health issues related. Most people with mental health issues go nowhere near crime, but you do have a percentage of the population who police encounter, who have mental health issues. I want to be really clear on that.

And then from the social inequality, the question that always has intrigued me is how do you get criminal justice with justice? I think that’s such an important question and the liberal arts is really posed to answer that. And then political science, you’ve got all the policy, you’ve got philosophy and the ethics. What are the ethics of people who work in the criminal justice system? Not just police, but people who work in domestic violence. What are the ethics of the questions… Not the questions, sorry, but the problems you encounter.

Greg Kaster:

All fantastic. I’m thinking, as you said all of that, maybe… I don’t know. I used to believe if someone studied the liberal arts, everything would be fine, but of course, that’s not true. But still, maybe every police officer needs to go through some kind of liberal arts program like that. The other question I have for you, it’s related to your department, is how unusual is it for social-anthro to be combined in a small college department like that? Or is Gustavus atypical?

Suzanne Wilson:

No, we’re not atypical at all. Historically, back in the early 20th century, most social-anthro departments were combined except for very large schools, they weren’t. And eventually, they started separating out, mostly in the larger universities. But for the liberal arts in the smaller schools, it’s not unusual at all to have them combined.

We are two different disciplines, sociology, anthropology. And people make a big point of distinguishing them. But I feel like, from a student point of view, they’re very complimentary. The students don’t see the distinctions between the two disciplines I would say the way that professors do.

The students are like, “Well, culture, I need to know culture. Sociology tells me about different groups. Well, those two things seem to go together. Different groups have different cultures, so I’m learning a lot and I’m learning the skills to deal with different groups.”

Greg Kaster:

And I’m thinking they’re ethnographies, right? I mean, sociologists writing… What’s that sociology… Mitchell Duneier, he’s written, I think on Chicago. Anyways, where sociologists do ethnographies the way [crosstalk 00:51:45]-

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Yeah. He wrote about people getting evicted from their homes.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. That’s the one. Exactly. Yeah, so that’s interesting. I’ve always wondered about that. We’ve talked so much about [inaudible 00:51:55] social-anthro. But do you have any training yourself in anthropology in your background or not?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, yeah, I actually took some anthropology courses and my undergrad was in a combined department too. And I didn’t get trained in ethnography from anthropologists, but I had a lot of ethnographic research projects I worked on as a research assistant and a post-doc. So I have a lot of ethnography in my background besides the work in Colombia.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Suzanne Wilson:

But as a good friend of mine used to say, and she was an anthropologist, everything is ethnography. And I really do feel like that’s my philosophy, that everything is ethnography.

Greg Kaster:

I like that.

Suzanne Wilson:

What?

Greg Kaster:

I like that.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Yeah. So any case I, so I do have that training. I have taught the senior seminar course, which has the students all do their own ethnographic projects.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, neat.

Suzanne Wilson:

Which is wonderful because to see the students do their own project and their confidence grow, and they would never believe that they could do what they did till the end of the semester has been awesome.

Greg Kaster:

That’s a great segue into the next question, which is… But the range of courses I ticked off in the intro, they all sound interesting to me. And every single one of them is relevant in so many important ways to the present moment where, again, the prison population in this country and on and on and on. But do you have a favorite course or two that you really enjoy teaching?

Suzanne Wilson:

Actually, I love all my courses and I feel extremely lucky that I’ve been able to teach courses I’m interested in. And it’s both a blessing and a curse that they keep changing, the subject matter keeps changing. I mean, immigration policy changes every semester. I teach about that.

But I’m also glad it’s not static. In chemistry, H2O is still H2O. I know that some of the sciences change like biology and genetics and neuroscience, but it changes so quickly, it keeps me interested so that there are different courses every time I teach them, just like history is forever changing with the interpretations.

Greg Kaster:

That’s right. Yeah.

Suzanne Wilson:

And resources.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Even if the titles might stay the same, it’s true. Can you say a little bit more about the women crime and criminal justice course, what you’re focusing on there?

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. Well, that was looking at gender in the criminal justice system. But not just gender actually, it was looking at an intersectional viewpoint of the intersection of social class, race, and gender, and women, and how the criminal justice system treats women differently.

So for example, domestic violence, there’s been a huge improvement I would say, beginning in the 1980s. But crimes against women such as rape and domestic violence, women are most of the victims, not the only victims but most of the victims, and most of the offenders are male. Once again, we’re talking about 90% of victims and 90% of offenders and how they’re treated differently, and also how women are treated differently in the system.

So for example, if you’re a woman overall, you probably might get a lesser sentence, but the person who’s going to get the worst sentence by the criminal justice system is a mom because of the idea of who we have as mothers, they need to be great moms. And if you’re a bad mom, you’re horrible like the Bad Mom movie. So if you want to know who’s going to, on average, get the worst sentence for anything, including drugs, it’s going to be a low-income woman, mom of color.

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Suzanne Wilson:

And so that’s what that course focused on, on how those different forms of inequality came together.

Greg Kaster:

That’s still ongoing. And for some reason, my mind is jumping to what’s been in the news recently, the inequality around supposed voting fraud where a white person who makes a mistake or votes whatever gets a very light sentence, and then a black person, Oh my God, five years or something. There’s that inequality as well.

Yeah. Again, all of your courses are so timely and important and illuminating. I don’t think you can understand where we’re at in this country and elsewhere without understanding all of those issues that you work on. The other thing I like about your work too is just how interdisciplinary it is. And you’re involved, as I mentioned, in the women’s sexuality studies, Latin America, Latinx, Caribbean studies programs. You’re also involved right in peace studies, I think. Is that right?

Suzanne Wilson:

Right.,

Greg Kaster:

The Peace Studies program, which fits with your work perfectly. That is something I was also aware of when I started looking into Gustavus, learning more about it, that attracted me. I was involved in the peace studies program much more early on, but I think that’s important. And then the other thing I wanted to ask you about is the public… You’re involved in the Public Health minor too, is that right?

Suzanne Wilson:

That’s correct. That’s because part of public health is actually interested in crime.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

It’s a new trend in public health. And also, public health traditionally has been a grad program and it’s becoming more and more undergrad. But because of the drugs in society mainly has been the link to public health. And also, my last sabbatical, I was a visiting scholar in Brazil and I was teaching qualitative methods courses and also meta-studies, which is how you combine and evaluate different studies back to history actually. And so I did some seminars on that and worked on some projects in Brazil. So I have a little bit… The public health just intersects mostly with the drugs.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Yeah. I have become… Again, public health policy, I can’t read enough. Mostly in newspapers and magazines, but think about it enough, I think it’s so important. Some history majors have gone on into that field. And what you just said about the connection between gun violence, right, and public health.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

And the way the U.S. government has made it hard to make that a public health issue across Democratic and Republican administrations. Anyway, extremely important. And I’m glad we have that program. I did not know that that’s a trend at the undergraduate level as well until you just said so. What about the teaching in general at Gustavus, what is it that you find most rewarding? You attended a liberal arts… It was a university, but still, a liberal arts college in effect. What is it about the teaching that you enjoy most?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, there’s a lot. I could go on for another podcast about teaching. I really, really do consider it my calling. I love it. One of your previous interviewees said Jeff [inaudible 00:58:59], I draw a lot from Parker Palmer.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

And I think it’s really important to show up authentically because you can’t expect your students to show up authentically as your authentic self if you don’t show up. And I really try to give students a deeper understanding of social inequality and also how it relates to their own lives. You mentioned C. Wright Mills earlier.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Suzanne Wilson:

He’s super famous in sociology, but I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from his idea of the sociological imagination; connecting your own personal troubles to what’s going on in the historical period and what’s going on in the broader trends. So for example, when I was in college, college was affordable. Now, people can’t go through without loans. I told my students, “I know you don’t want to hear about back in the day, but back in the day, I was able to work at UPS and pay my way through college and still have money left over for a car and some nice clothes.” Now, you couldn’t conceive of that.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. No, go ahead.

Suzanne Wilson:

No, sorry, Greg.

Greg Kaster:

No, no, no. Exactly. I think maybe my tuition was $400 or $500, something absurdly low when I think about university, at Northern Illinois University back in the ’70s. That was a book by Mills, is that right? I know I read either an essay about when you said sociological imagination, but yeah. Powerful.

Suzanne Wilson:

Yeah. It’s a book.

Greg Kaster:

It’s a book.

Suzanne Wilson:

Sociological Imagination.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. I did read that, again, in graduate school. And that struck me too. And again, the way you can relate that to history, we’re trying to understand not just the past, but the connections between the past and the present, which aren’t necessarily straightforward but are there nonetheless.

The way I want to end here is by asking you, you’ve kind of done it already, but to bring it together, make a case for studying social-anthro, not just at Gustavus but in general. What’s important about those disciplines do you think? How would you pitch it to a prospective major?

Suzanne Wilson:

Well, I think there’s two things. One is, and I just mentioned that, was to try to understand that things had happened to you aren’t all your fault, that you’re a product of your social environment, of your culture, of your historical period. So understanding that because you don’t have the opportunities for education, I think it’s very important for people to understand that what’s going on in their lives is not all their fault or under their control, and to try to understand that and maybe possibly change it.

Greg Kaster:

Right. To have some sense of agency. Exactly.

Suzanne Wilson:

And I think the other thing is to understand different people’s viewpoints. And that’s something I think, for me at least, has been a lifelong task is to try to see how other people feel and to understand their viewpoint and see, maybe they had different opportunities or lack of opportunities. And I think that’s an important skill to go through life. I think that’s part of sociology and anthropology is contribution to the liberal arts mission as well.

Greg Kaster:

Agree. All well said. And God knows we need that now. I tell my students doing history, we’re going to encounter people some of us may like, some of us may not like, or all of us may not like. Slaveholders, we might be all thinking slavery is horrible, but we’ve got to understand, right? What made these people tick? That they’re human beings and we need to walk in their shoes, as horrible as that may be, or be for us at least.

So this has been just great. So interesting. I’ve learned a lot as I always do talking to you and when I talk to others for the podcast. I’m thinking about cocaine. Oh my God. Just the supply chain issue. Yeah. Because I never thought about supply chains pre-COVID at all. Right? It never occurred to me until early on in the pandemic. You go in the store and there’s no toilet paper, there’s no this, there’s no that.

And still, right, the disruption. But the way that works with even a commodity like cocaine is extremely interesting. So thank you so much. Have a wonderful sabbatical. The project sounds great, really important, and interesting. Look forward to hearing more about that, reading about that as you get it underway. And take good care.

Suzanne Wilson:

Thanks, Greg.

Greg Kaster:

Thank you, Suzanne. We’ll see you in person soon. Bye-bye. Learning for Life @ Gustavus is produced by JJ Akin and Matthew Dobosenski of the Gustavus Office of Marketing; Gustavus graduate Will Clark, class of ’20, who also provides technical expertise to the podcast; and me. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.

 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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