CfP EAUH2020: Narcotic Cities: Discourses, Strategies and Imaginaries around Urban Drug Use after 1945

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Call for Papers
September 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Contemporary History, Cultural History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Urban History / Studies

European Association of History Conference: Antwerp, Sept. 2-5, 2020


Stefan Höhne, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen
Gemma Blok, Open Universiteit Heerlen |
Boris Michel, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

HERA Research Project "Governing the Narcotic City"

Submission Deadline: Oct. 1, 2019

Link to Submission Page: EAUH CfP: Narcotic Cities: Discourses, Strategies and Imaginaries around Urban Drug Use after 1945

Cultures of drug use are deeply woven into public spaces, everyday lives and the contested governance of cities. During the postwar period, the consumption of both legal and illicit narcotics has become an increasingly widespread phenomenon in European cities, affecting in different ways all social classes and milieus. Within media and political discourse, however, it is predominantly the visibility of practices in public space related to the use of both legal and illegal drugs that is considered most problematic. These practices are often linked to specific urban areas, such as ‘ghettos’, immigrant neighborhoods or other ‘spaces of fear’. Drug use and sales are usually associated with marginalized groups, such as homeless, foreign and impoverished populations. Imaginaries of drug users evoke stereotypical and often highly gendered and racialized conceptions of what we call ‘narcotic subjects’, such as ‘junkies’, migrants, sex workers or dealers. 

Furthermore, these geographies of drug use often function as catalysts that trigger public discussions regarding what forms of encounters, practices and exchanges are desired and acceptable within urban public space. By raising contentious issues like morality and fear – as well as othering and stigmatization – these imaginaries stimulate debate on larger social issues such as exclusion, deviance and integration.

In this session, we want to explore how practices, discourses and conflicts around public drug use have impacted the social and cultural fabric of cities. We ask: 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 politics of stigmatization and suggested alternative visions? 

Urban space is not equally accessible to everyone and certain drugs and their users are deemed more acceptable in public space than others. How do these dynamics shape the modalities of inclusion and exclusion of public space in cities? How do practices of ‘place making’ and urban design shape urban drug cultures, their contestations and tolerations?

To explore these questions, we welcome papers focusing on urban narcotic cultures in European Cities from the end of WWII until today. We are particularly interested in comparative work, trans-local microhistories and long-term case studies. 

All paper proposals must be submitted through the EAUH2020 website by 1 October 2019:

When submitting your proposal, please make sure you mark it for the session (S-CUL-2)

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and comments

Contact Info: 
Dr. Stefan Höhne
Mercator Research Fellow
Institut für Kulturwissenschaften (KWI)
Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities 

Goethestr. 31 | 45128 Essen | Germany
Contact Email: