Project: Public Spaces and Psychoactive Revolution. The Impact of New Intoxicants on Public Spaces, Consumption, and Sociability in North-Western Europe, c. 1600 - c. 1850

Acronym PSPR
Duration 01/06/2016 - 28/02/2020
Project Topic Emerging trading networks and migration flows from across the globe introduced European consumers to ‘new intoxicants’ (tobacco, coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, opium) between 1650 and 1850, generating new public spaces and forms of public sociability and exchange in the process. Cities in the North/Baltic Sea trading zone were key hubs for this flow of goods and peoples as points of entry, sites of consumption and settlement, and nodes in European migratory and trafficking networks. Focusing on Hamburg, Stockholm, London and Amsterdam, this project accordingly uses four comparative case-studies to explore the complex interplay of competing discourses about these ‘new intoxicants’; the impact of migrants in fashioning new consumer practices; their generation of new public spaces and public sociability; and the fashioning or demonisation of intoxicants, their users, and the public spaces they helped delineate.PSPR contends that understanding these histories offers a neglected but urgently required perspective on the place of psychoactive substances in modern culture and the spatial politics of inclusion and exclusion they lubricate. Its objectives are threefold: conceptually, to learn from the past by historicising current debates about public spaces, drugs, and migrants rather than mining ‘history’ to corroborate contemporary assumptions; empirically, to recover and compare trans- nationally the historical data that enables us to do this; communicatively, to work with associate partners (schools, museums, NGOs) to actively create and transfer new knowledge for educational and information purposes. The outcomes of these exchanges – a ‘virtual exhibition’, school ‘study packs’, and NGO blogs and booklets– will be freely accessible on the PSPR website.
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Call HERA Joint Research Programme “Public Spaces: Culture and Intergration in Europe”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet Oldenburg Coordinator Germany
2 Utrecht University Partner Netherlands
3 Stockholm University Partner Sweden
4 The University of Sheffield Partner United Kingdom