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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.160

Drug Economy in Marginalized Areas in the Czech Republic: Between Social Mobility and Residential Alienation


  • Dr. Petr KUPKA

Primary authors

  • Dr. Petr KUPKA (Department of Anthropology, University of West Bohemia)


Czech socially excluded localities (SELs) are pockets of urban marginality much smaller in size than American ghettos, French banlieus or British areas of multiple deprivation. All of these places are, to some extent, affected by drug economy and SELs are no exception. This economy brings into the dynamic of urban marginality two crucial trends: emancipatory and disruptive. It creates a livelihood, new career possibilites for young men in these areas - but it also contributes to community disruption by causing physical, psychological and social harm. This paper aspires to provide an insight into one aspect of drug economy which connects both of these meanings: residential alienation. Drawing on my 17-months ethnographic research in one of the SELs in Ostrava in North-Moravian region, I will illustrate the analytical weight of this concept (originally developed by Peter Marcuse) by empirical evidence of the struggle of local community leaders against local drug dealers. Anti-drug measures in the neighbourhood were led by the logic of in/securitization: drugs have been presented as a security threat by the community leaders which was followed by security measures based on repression of local dealers adopted by state and municipality. This configuration led to the growing suspicion among the local inhabitants and towards official authorities, and disrupted the potential of solidarity needed for resistance against the forthcoming process of gentrification.