Skip to content Skip to Content
Governing the Narcotic City

Project & Research

All about the Narcotic City Project and its Case Studies
Governing the Narcotic City


Governing the Narcotic City 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.

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.

Europe-wide collaboration

For this purpose, we are collaborating with nine local non-profit 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 Narcotic City Archive.

Also, we achieved to get a number of associated researchers on board who will, with their respective expertises from different fields, provide the project with valuable insights from varying perspectives and international backgrounds.

Map of Narcotic City Case Studies in European Cities


Find out more about the Narcotic City Case Studies in multiple 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.


The project is being conducted by six teams based in leading European research institutes.

We are funded by HERA as part of the research programme Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe


Personal Data

We commit to the EU General Data Protection Regulation as of 25 May 2018 and protect the personal data of researchers, partners, professionals and individuals involved in both fieldwork and organization. We will anonymize research material or pseudonymize contacts, provide information about the retrieval and deletion of personal data and implement strong access guidelines to research material. 

Open Data

The aim of the living archive is to publish open data: authorizations of individuals, anonymization and pseudonymization will guarantee privacy – when needed – and be carefully implemented following the methodological guidelines.

Open Access

The CRP will closely follow the guidelines on open-access for publications and data adopted for Horizon 2020.

Research with Minors

When working with minors, we will thoroughly consider the ethical implications of the study. A key element is to recognize and be sensitive to issues of children’s and youth’s vulnerability (Matthews et al. 1998). These considerations are key to our methodological practice. Furthermore we will obtain authorizations and consent from parents or relevant legal guardians.