Fr / 14:00

Gold Rush in Needle Park – Histories of Drug-led Gentrification

Conference “Gentrification Imaginaries: Stories of Urban Transformations and Displacement”

Stefan Höhne, KWI

FRIAS Freiburg, Albertstraße 19, 79104 Freiburg im Breisgau

In much of the popular imagination, illicit drugs are traditionally associated with urban decay, ghettos, and junkies, while gentrification is thought of as a way to transform such “drug-ridden” neighborhoods into safe and clean areas for middle class families. Moreover, the displacement of such drug cultures from public spaces, such as parks and squares, is usually legitimized as a way to eradicate deviant behavior and to “sober up” neighborhoods. However, this talk will offer an alternative to such truisms, arguing that more often than not, dynamics of urban renewal are actually tied to process of “drug-led gentrification”. Instead of feeding the narrative of gentrification and illicit drug use as negatively correlated, I will argue that gentrifying neighborhoods often trigger a proliferation and pluralization of local drug cultures.