Download our first newsletter!

December 2019

In it you will find news related to our kick-off workshop in Berlin, our lecture series Intoxication, Governance, and the City, upcoming events, a call for residency at Christiania (Copenhagen) and more.

Download GONACI Newsletter I, December 2019 (PDF, 1.5MB)

Over the course of the research project, we will be sending out newsletters about 2-3 times a year. In each one, we will also be profiling one of our Associated Partners and in later editions of the newsletter, some of the objects that will be included in the Archive of Public Drug Cultures.

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Berlin, Rauschgiftspürhund im Einsatz (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1128-013 / Uhlemann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Berlin, Rauschgiftspürhund im Einsatz (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1128-013 / Uhlemann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Drogenpolitik in Berlin und Anderswo

New Lecture Series

Intoxication, Governance and the City:
Drug Policies in Berlin and Elsewhere

In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Governing the Narcotic City presents a new lecture series, Stadt-Rausch-Regierung: Drogenpolitik in Berlin and Anderswo (Intoxication, Governance and the City: Drug Policies in Berlin and Elsewhere), which will run from November of 2019 to April 2020.

The first event, Fragmente einer Drogengeschichte Berlin (Fragments of Berlin's Narcotic History), invites four speakers to discuss historical episodes of drug culture in the German’s capital. It will be held in Berlin.

For more information,
please visit the website.
(German only)

»Fight along with
  the Junkie Union!«

Heroin Users’ Activism in Rotterdam, 1980–2000

Prof. Dr. Gemma Blok
(Open University; Heerlen Netherlands)

In 1980, a group of heroin users in Rotterdam founded the »Junkie-Union,« a protest organization against police raids and the overemphasis on abstinence-oriented therapies in addiction treatment. Along with Protestant Paulus Church, the union opened an experimental site, the Perron Nul (Platform Zero), which offered a space where users could access methadone maintenance, clean needles, and basic care (toilets, showers, coffee, etc.). This controversial facility ran for nearly a decade before being shut down (1987-1994).

This lecture examines archival material from the Rotterdam Junkie Union to analyze the rise and fall of Perron Nul as an arena for contestation about the »Junkie’s« marginalized citizenship.

Public Lecture and Discussion

Aquarium (Südblock), 

Skalitzer Str. 6, Berlin (U Kottbusser Tor)

Archival material from the Rotterdam Junkie Union: 'Strijd mee in de Junkie Bond'; Dope No.3, Rotterdam, Heroin Users' Activism in Rotterdam, 1980-2000

Dope No.3: »Strijd mee in de Junkie Bond«.
Archival material from the Rotterdam Junkie Union.

Project Summary

This research project explores the discourses, imaginaries, practices and consequences of public drug use from the 1970s until the present, with a focus on Western and Central European cities.

Cultures of drug use are deeply interwoven into public spaces, everyday lives, and the contested governance of European cities. Particularly over the last forty years, we see the governance of narcotic practices play a crucial role in the production and control of public spaces. An examination of these forms of control offers a lens to focus our understanding on historical and present-day forms of urban exclusion, marginalization and integration – particularly in relation to issues of gender, class, race, and disability. Moving beyond stereotypes and stigmatization, we look at how control is exercised and how bodies and identities are disciplined in order to understand how these processes are entangled in the production of narcotic spaces of pleasure, fear, and everyday life.

Youth in Amsterdam at Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam, 1973. <br>Photographer: Bert Verhoeff / Anefo, Courtesy of the National Archives of the Netherlands (Public Domain).

Youth in Amsterdam at Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam, 1973.
Photographer: Bert Verhoeff / Anefo, Courtesy of the National Archives of the Netherlands (Public Domain).

Our project asks: How have the conflicts around public drug use impacted the social and cultural fabric of European cities in the late 20th and early 21st century? What imaginary geographies of urban narcotic cultures have emerged? How have cities regulated contested sites of drug use? Which actors and social movements have questioned these politics of stigmatization and suggested alternative visions for urban space?

Governing the Narcotic City is working to construct an open-access Archive of Public Drug Cultures. Cutting across different spaces and legal regimes, intentions, and actors, this digital archive is envisioned to unsettle taken-for-granted assumptions about how narcotics, space, cities, activism, and governance are intertwined.

For this purpose, we are collaborating with ten local nonprofit organizations across Europe. From running needle exchanges to archiving biographies of drug users, these associations have been working first-hand in the field for decades. Their expertise will form the foundation of the Archive of Public Drug Cultures.

Case Studies

Consumers, traders, and substances circulate among cities. Policy makers, from politicians to local activists, likewise perambulate, exchanging ideas and strengthening knowledge transfer of best practices.

Our project investigates six multi-sited case studies across nine European cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, Prague, Budapest and Zurich. Some of these cities have reputations as national and international centers of drug use, whereas others have drug cultures that lay mostly under the radar.

Narcotic City investigates six multi-sited case studies across nine European cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, Prague, Budapest and Zurich
Case Study I

Cold War Drug City – 

A Narcotic History of Berlin 1949–1989

Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague

Dr. Stefan Höhne
 and Dr. Emily Bereskin

in cooperation with Fixpunkt e.V. and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum 
(FHXB) Berlin

In the 1970s, West-Berlin became a hot-spot for new public drug cultures and a laboratory for regulatory approaches. Albeit to a lesser extent, the same holds true for East-Berlin, as - in contact with the West - drug scenes developed that brought together migrants, diplomats, dissidents, students, and others. Especially in the 1980s, the divided city became a crucial hub within a larger network of cities - including Amsterdam and Prague - where knowledge, people, and capital circulated and intertwined with narcotic spaces. Using historical network analysis, archival research and oral history, this project reconstructs the heretofore unexplored networks of public drug cultures in Cold War Berlin that often transcended and undermined the Iron Curtain.

Case Study II

›Junkie Kingdoms:‹ 

Open Drug Scenes and the Narcotic City

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zürich, Frankfurt

Prof. Dr. Gemma Blok
and PD Dr. Peter-Paul Bänziger
in cooperation with MDHG Belangenvereniging Druggebruikers (Association of Drug Users) and the Amsterdam City Museum.

The rise of heroin use in Europe during the 1970s took a distinctly visible form when ›junkies‹ and dealers suddenly crowded around train stations buying, selling, and using in open public spaces. The concentration of drug trade and use near public transportation hubs both served and was strengthened by local and international commuters, a significant market segment. This historical project analyses such concentrated spaces of drug use in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zurich, and Frankfurt from the 1970s to the early 1990s. It elucidates shifting fundamental debates regarding drug use, freedom, and safety in public space and highlights the intersections among health, policy, and mobility.

Narcotic City: Rave Club in Berlin, from the Series Maria 2009-2011

Rave Club in Berlin, from the Series Maria 2009-2011, Copyright: Ben de Biel.

Case Study III

Raves and the Golden Age of Partying:
Narcotic Imaginations of Post-Unification Berlin

Berlin, Amsterdam, Marseille

Dr. Thomas Bürk
in cooperation with
Bildungswerk Berlin der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
(The Educational Institute of the Heinrich-Böll foundation).

This project examines questions of moral panic, romanticism, and geographies of affect by looking at drug cultures that arose from the rave scenes in three European cities, focusing specifically on Berlin. Coming out of the Cold War, the image of newly unified Berlin in the early 1990s was defined by narratives and imaginations of counterculture, dance, and excess. This new party scene was synonymous with the creative, temporary appropriations of (semi)-public spaces and with the consumption of drugs, all of which created a new mythology of the city. This project combines the analysis of literature, music, films, and other representations of urban rave culture after 1989 with participant observation and interviews in order to trace the narratives and practices of urban place-making through rave culture. Berlin is examined in comparison with Amsterdam and Marseille.

Case Study IV

Everyday Life
in the Shadow of the Narcotic City


Prof. Dr. Louise Fabian
and Prof. Dr. Anders Lund Hansen
in cooperation with Projekt Udenfor (Project Outside) and Christiania Researcher in Residence

Since 1971, Copenhagen’s Christiania has been a space of conflict. This is largely due to the open-air cannabis market located in the middle of this self-organized urban community. What started as a squatter occupation has developed into a highly contested and highly policed space, but also a tourist site and a home for almost 900 inhabitants. Now known worldwide, Christiania has become a laboratory for new modes of alternative everyday urbanisms, strategies of drug governance, and social and environmental justice. Local partners UDENFOR and CRIR will facilitate explorations of the highly contested space of Christiania, where we will be conducting archival research as well as participatory mapping and audio-visual ethnography with the younger inhabitants. This work will provide insight into how children and youths can and do live ‘everyday life’ in marginalized spaces.

Case Study V

Gendered Governance of the Narcotic City:
Mapping Feminist Party Practices

Amsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, Marseille

Dr. Mélina Germes
and Dr. Jenny Künkel
in cooperation with
Université Populaire de Bordeaux

Masculine governance often ignores female drug cultures while at the same time constructing intoxicated feminine bodies in public spaces as vulnerable. To counter this interpretation of feminine drug use linked to spaces of fear, this project will explore how women create spaces of pleasure and empowerment in order to engender safer conditions for drug use. This research examines networks of feminist practices found throughout urban spaces in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, and Marseille and makes use of a range of methods including interviews, ethnographic analysis, and mental mapping. This project highlights women’s experiences and histories of marginalization and vulnerability, conviviality and pleasure, as well as strategies for empowerment in the largely masculine governance of feminine drug practices.

Case Study VI

Public Spaces of Urban Narco-Tourism

Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague

Dr. habil Boris Michel
and Frederieke Westerheide
in cooperation with Open Berlin.

This case study investigates urban tourism and the narcotic city. It focuses on narco-tourism in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague, three cities that form a popular route for young backpackers from across the globe. While these cities share reputations for liberal drug policies and vibrant party scenes, their ways of governing local drug economies and consumption alongside the rising number of tourists vastly differ. These different practices and policies are increasingly influenced by patterns of touristification, which further affect both the imaginary geographies of public places as well as local articulations and regulations of drug-use and trade. By tracing and mapping practices and policies related to narco-tourism, this project shows the growing relationship between drug-use, touristification, and other urban processes of change.

Wall in Christiania, 2018. Copyright: Louise Fabian.

Wall in Christiania, 2018. Copyright: Louise Fabian.

Project Team

The Narcotic City Research Team, Investigators, Members, Partners and Associated Researchers.

Research Team

Principal Investigators
  • Dr. Stefan Höhne (Project Leader)

    Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI)
    Essen, Germany

  • Prof. Dr. Gemma Blok

    Open University of the Netherlands
    Heerlen, Netherlands

  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Bürk

    IB Hochschule Berlin

  • Prof. Dr. Louise Fabian

    Aarhus University

  • Dr. Mélina Germes


  • Dr. habil Boris Michel

    University Erlangen-Nuremberg

Research Team

Project Members
  • PD Dr. Peter-Paul Bänziger

    University of Basel, Switzerland

  • Dr. Emily Bereskin

    Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI)
    Essen, Germany

  • Prof. Dr. Anders Lund Hansen

    Lund University

  • Dr. Jenny Künkel


  • David O’Neill

    Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI)
    Essen, Germany

  • Frederieke Westerheide

    University Erlangen-Nuremberg


  • Amsterdam City Museum
  • Bildungswerk Berlin der 
  • CRIR – Christiania 
  • Fixpunkt e.V. Berlin
  • Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum (FHXB) Berlin
  • MDHG – Belangenvereniging 
voor druggebruikers
  • Open Berlin e.V.
  • Projekt UDENFOR, Copenhagen
  • Université Populaire de Bordeaux

Associated Researchers

  • Dr. Robert Feustel

    University of Jena

  • Dr. Marie Jauffret Routide

    French Institute of Health and Medical Research | Inserm

  • Dr. Martin Fuller

    Technical University Berlin

  • Dr. Alexander Klose

    Office for Precarious Concepts, Berlin


For questions and inquiries regarding the project please contact Dr. Emily Bereskin, project coordinator, at

Narcotic City Partner Universities & Funding

  • HERA – Humanities in the European Research Area
  • KWI – Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen
  • Aarhus University
  • Universität Duisburg Essen
  • Open-Minded, Open Universiteit (OU)
  • FAU – Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • UMR 5319 Passages
  • IB Hochschule
  • Sponsored by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany)
  • EU – This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme