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Article

Foreign Natives: Psychoactivity, Policing, and the Elusive Corporeality of the Post-Soviet Rave

Contemporary Drug Problems. 2021. Vol. 48. No. 4. P. 362-371.
Vasilyev P., Viktoria Vinokurova.

This article focuses on the rave subculture of St. Petersburg in the 1990s and demonstrates how new forms of psychoactive control and resistance emerged in the wake of the Soviet collapse. By staying sensitive to the material and corporeal aspects of these phenomena, it contributes to the socio-material studies of drug control and emphasizes that the physical body itself should be an important venue for drug research. In doing so, we build on existing literature that discusses bodies as information resources to detect drug use and identifies resistance strategies to increasingly technological drug control measures. We advance this discussion by suggesting that the psychoactive setting of rave in post-Soviet St. Petersburg gave rise to a highly particular yet notably elusive and difficult-to-define type of corporeality. On the one hand, this corporeality could be positively interpreted as a marker of resistance and belonging on the “inside.” At the same time, it could also be employed strategically by law enforcement officers to detect and prosecute drug-consuming individuals. Moreover, we propose to view this psychoactive “rave body” as deeply embedded in its spatio-temporal context—thus accounting for the influence of time and space on the materiality of drug control and resistance. In examining these dynamics, we draw on a wide range of sources, including memoirs, press materials, early Internet archives, publicly printed interviews, photographs, and video materials.