November 14, 2017

Kristoff Kerl

Dan David Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D. University of Cologne

Creating the Countercultural Self:                   

Psychedelic Drugs and 'Liberated' Sexuality in

Western Countercultures, 1960s until 1980s

During the 1960s, countercultures emerged in western countries like the United States, Great Britain and Western Germany. Advocating hedonistic practices of daily life, they differed fundamentally from other factions of the New Left more oriented to conventional political concepts and strategies. They tried to initiate a cultural revolution and create alternative spaces beyond the influence of capitalist sociation. They countered what they understood as the human alienation in capitalist consumer societies with a politics of the self that was supposed to establish solidarity among communities oriented towards sustainability, ‘naturalness’ and holism. In this context, body politics and body practices were of outstanding importance as members of countercultures conceived bodies as territories of political conflict and power struggle. In his talk Kristoff Kerl will examine how ‘politics of ecstasy’, which means the consumption of ‘psychedelic’ drugs as well as the ‘liberation’ of sexuality, were conceived as means of liberating the people from capitalist alienation. By doing this, he will also shed light on transnational and transcultural processes of transfer and exchange between members of countercultures in the US, Great Britain as well as Western Germany.