'The Effects Can Last Forever': Ecstasy's Risks and Pleasures in Britain, 1985-2000


  • Dr Peder Clark

    University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

Project summary

I will write a new history of the impact and legacy of Ecstasy (MDMA) in Britain from the drug's arrival in the mid-1980s, through its association with the 'rave' scene and the tragic death of Essex teenager Leah Betts, until its establishment as a mainstream 'party' drug at the turn of the millennium. I will place Ecstasy consumers and their consumption at the heart of this story, using a combination of archival research and oral histories. I will explore how Ecstasy was discussed and represented by public health and medical circles, in the mainstream media, and in wider cultural discourse to provide new perspectives on how consumers drive the market for illegal drugs in contemporary societies. I will combine recent developments in the history of emotions with histories of drugs and intoxicants to answer questions about the changing relationships between 'pleasure', 'risk' and 'health' in Britain since the 1980s.