‘Have a Nice Trip’: Urban Spaces of Drug Use and Tourism in Berlin, Germany

Authors: Frederieke Westerheide*, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Topics: Urban Geography, Tourism Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Drugs, Tourism, Berlin
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper I examine the interrelations of spaces of public drug cultures and urban tourism in Berlin, Germany. Within the last decade, Berlin has become one of the most visited destinations in Europe. The city has a reputation for its club- and partyscene as well as its liberal approach to recreational uses of legal and illegal substances. Berlins city marketing has for many years cultivated an image as a 24/7 city that never sleeps. Berlin represents a place of longing to fulfill various hedonistic desires. In this context, the use of legal and illegal substances, takes on an enormous significance, for residents and tourists alike. Places of public drug consumption are discoursively allocated to stigmatized and marginalized urban areas, in which associated subjects experience criminalization and exclusion. Some of these ‘drug hotspots’ simultaneously serve as the city’s most frequented nightlife areas and most popular tourist destinations. Since the early 2000s a concurrency of restrictive and punitive measures of policing drug cultures and soft approaches of governing urban tourism continued, emerged, and shifted. This led to a production of urban spaces simultaneously negatively and positively linked to substance use. Numerous tensions and conflicts arose and persisted. I conclude that this seemingly contradictory configuration is embedded in specific contextual policies and modes of governance that emerged alongside broader processes of urban change. I conduct this study by identifying key actors, examining local policies, and tracing back predominant discourses surrounding tourism and substance consumption in the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.

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