Past events
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In the past, various cultures have repeatedly tried to contain intoxication through rules and rituals. However, drugs as a separate category of prohibited substances are an invention of the last 200 years. In her book “The Great Intoxication”, historian Helena Barop tells the story of their criminalization and shows that the arguments behind it have less to do with health protection than one might hope. In her lecture, she talks about her research process, explains how and why her attitude to the topic has changed and reads passages from her book, which has a mind-altering effect on many readers.


Dr. Helena Barop was born in Bonn in 1986 and lives with her family in Freiburg. Since completing her doctorate on American drug history in 2021, she has worked as a freelance author, historian, ghostwriter, editor and director. Her book Der große Rausch. Warum Drogen kriminalisiert werden. Eine globale Geschichte vom 19. Jh. bis heute  was published by Siedler in October 2023.

Portrait of the drug historian Helena Barop
© David Ausserhofer

Dr. Patrick Helber is a historian and curator for education and outreach at the Ethnological Museum. He prefers to get intoxicated with cold mate drinks.

Dr. Patrick Helber
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Juliane Eirich

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