Dr. Stefan Höhne

Senior Researcher / Research Organisation

I am a cultural historian and theorist, with a focus on science & technology studies, critical urban history, and spatial theory. In my research, I explore the empirical as well as conceptual relations of urbanization, technology and everyday life in the 20th and 21st century. Often mobilizing a transatlantic perspective, my work has contributed insights into new materialities and infrastructures in social and cultural history and theory.

I have been trained mostly in interdisciplinary academic environments in Europe and the US and received my PhD in 2008 for a dissertation on the history of New York’s subway passenger culture. Before becoming a permanent research fellow at KWI in 2022, I have held positions as a lecturer and researcher at Humboldt University and Technical University Berlin, a lecturer at New York University, a Mercator fellow at KWI and a visiting scholar at Columbia University New York.

My current research focuses on the social and cultural histories of pharmaceuticals and narcotics.  From 2019 to 2022, I led the international project Governing the Narcotic City. Imaginaries, Practices and Discourses of Public Drug Cultures in European Cities from 1970 until today. (HERA JRP/Horizon 2020). For nearly a decade, I am also developing empirical and conceptual work on the role of cooling and climate control in modern cultures and how these technologies have drastically restructured life both on a biological and social level.

Since 2015, I am also part of the editorial collective of sub\urban – Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung, a pioneering open access journal of German urban studies. I have also worked to develop historical databases, such as the Narcotic City Archive – the first open access archive preserving the narcotic heritage of European cities and beyond.


Research Interests

Modern and Contemporary History, Science & Technology Studies, Critical Urban History, Social and Cultural Theory of the 20th and 21st Century, Digital Publication formats


Selected English Publications

Narcotic Cities: Counter-Cartographies of Drugs and Spaces (co-edited with Mélina Germes und Luise Klaus), Berlin: Jovis/De Gruyter,2023.

Cities of Cool Comfort: Cryogenic Urbanization in the 20th Century in the Rise of Wellbeing Regimes, in: Joseph Heathcott, Jonathan Soffer, Rae Zimmerman (Hrsg.): Urban Infrastructure – Historical and Social Dimensions of an Interconnected World, Pittsburgh University Press, 2022.

Riding the New York Subway – The Invention of the Modern Passenger, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2021.

Beyond American Dystopia: On the Rise of Apocalyptic Visions in the Contemporary United States, in: Amerikastudien /American Studies, Bd. 66, S. 271-77, 2021.

Regimes of Freshness – Biopolitics in the Age of Cryogenic Culture [with Alexander Friedrich]. In: Medicine, Anthropology and Theory, 3, no. 3:112-154, 2017.

Marian Burchardt, Stefan Höhne and AbdouMaliq Simone (eds.): The Infrastructures of Diversity: Materiality and Culture in Urban Space. New Diversities 17(2), 2015.

Full list of publications (PDF)