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Governing the Narcotic City

Every City
is a Narcotic City

Public Drug Cultures in Europe
Governing the Narcotic City


Imaginaries, Practices and Discourses of Public Drug Cultures in European Cities from 1970
until Today

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.

Map of Narcotic City Case Studies in European Cities


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 eight European citiesAmsterdam, Berlin, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, Prague, 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.

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


Governing the Narcotic City is building the first open-access archive of public drug cultures in Europe. The Narcotic City Archive will collect and preserve the material and immaterial heritage of narcotic use and governance in post-war European cities.
The Narcotic City Archive collects different objects of public drug culture

The Archive covers a vast array of material, including historic documents, oral histories, mappings, interviews, photos, and objects. To expand the participatory archive, we are collaborating with nine nonprofit organizations across Europe. These associations have been working for decades in the fields of drug activism, policy debate, and living history. Their expertise will form the foundation of the Narcotic City Archive.

Wall in Christiania, 2018. Copyright: Louise Fabian.