Nancy Reagan in the ghetto. On space as mediator between structure and event
Using a concerted drug raid as example, this article suggests how spaces can mediate between event and structures, thereby legitimizing policy and policing. With regard to the war on drugs, space and space-related characters become crucial components – ontological agents – in discourse through their capacity of furnishing drugs with useable meanings, related especially to notions of inside and outside. Ultimately, those spatial-typological connective webs imagined by discourse merit attention for drugs- and identity research.Reviewing a concerted drug raid (and related material), the article builds on contemporary drug worries and identifies those drug spaces – which are here called narcotopias – which would have mattered in event-structure mediation. Spatial-discursive connections are characterized as follows: a narrative of invaded suburbia, and an invaded privileged American identity, became a decisive framing device for Reaganite policy. Still, formal policy reflected more than it produced, and public discourse already imagined the drug scourge as a rough spatial troika, consisting of a foreign outside (i.e. Latin America), a colluding or besieged domestic outside (i.e. the ghetto), and an innocent but threatened inside (i.e. ideal suburbia). This troika made an American identity in need of abstention and protection seem common sense. And common sense, too, became spatially informed: it would entail fighting strange and hard outsides with familiar and hard measures.