Category Archives: In English

When marginalized subjects map their city: Counter-mapping experiments with drug users in some German and French neighborhoods

Mélina Germes, Luise Klaus, “When marginalized subjects map their city: Counter-mapping experiments with drug users in some German and French neighborhoods”, Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, Volume: 152 issue: 1, page(s): 96-124. https://doi-org/10.1177/07591063211040234

This article aims to contribute to the social science discussion on urban policies and the integration (or exclusion) of the perspectives of marginalized groups by asking the question: If there were to be exhaustive urban planning relating to drug issues, what role should drug users play in the planning process? Our answer involves the use of a set of two complementary qualitative cartographic methods which allow us to focus on the inclusion of the voices of marginalized groups. This article is based on methodological experimentation in different French and German cities without aiming at a comparison. The article exposes and discusses firstly an individual interview method called ‘Emotional Mapping’, and secondly a participatory mapping workshop called ‘Ideal City Mapping’. The output of this project has been a web of visual and textual documents, in the form of reports, papers, articles and events such as a travelling exhibition, with the aim of engaging in public discussions with various key players.

Special Issue: Drug places between knowledge and representations

Drugs and Alcohol Today: Volume 21 Issue 3
Guest Editors: Mélina Germes, Bernd Werse & Marie Jauffret-Roustide

See table of contents below

“The aim of this special issue is to focus on the spatiality of drug practices and policies,
to question how practices and policies are spatialised and how common perceptions
of social space influence social practices and associated meanings of particular drug
places. By drug places, we mean places characterised by the consumption of
psychoactive substances. However, drug use by itself is not sufficient to characterise
a drug place: it requires some other factors and actors such as public, media and
political discourses; the intervention and action of drug policy stakeholders like
prevention and harm reduction services, municipalities, police; the organisation of
residents’ initiatives; the underground, (sub)cultural knowledge or hearsay narratives
specific to certain groups and the emotional atmospheres et al. So, drug places might
be public, private, semi-public or institutional spaces; they might be geo-localised
areas, as well as imaginary or digital spaces; they might be very mobile and changing
or persistent over decades. Drug places are neither determined by their urbanistic
design or localisation nor by their social characteristics. Drug places emerge as the
result of complex social production, as they are populated by people who use drugs,
residents, professionals and workers, intertwined with health and public safety issues,
appropriate for many uses, designed and managed by public and private landlords.
Their history, the power relationship they are into, their configuration, the manner in
which they are named, their localisation and the scales they are embedded in all
matter as follows: all this contributes to their construction, at a specific moment, in a
particular configuration, as a drug place. With the notion of drug places, we don’t
mean that there would exist places per se related or dedicated to drug practices. The
intent of this special issue is to show how drug places are socially constructed, why
and how actors interact with these constructions. Therefore, the question raised by the
notion of “drug place” is not the one of the localisation of (public) places where people
do drugs (no matter if this refers to open drug scenes, alcohol-related nightlife settings
or other places), usually referred to as places that require public intervention by
political actors and public attention by media.”

Mapping “drug places” from below. The lived cities of marginalized drug users

Germes, M., Klaus, L. and Steckhan, S. (2021), “Mapping “drug places” from below. The lived cities of marginalized drug users”, Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 21 No. 3

Free full-text available on repository HAL-SHS

On top of their legal, economic, social and institutional marginalization, marginalized drug users (MDUs) also experience political marginalization: drug policies shape their lives without their political participation. From a scientific as well as a political perspective, the inclusion of their various viewpoints and situated knowledge is a major challenge, and one to which this paper aims to contribute in light of the experiences and imaginaries of MDUs urban spaces in several German cities.

Following a socio-geographical approach, this paper interrogates how MDUs appropriate and imagine the city, drawing on Lefebvre’s Production of Space and mixing critical cartographic with grounded theory, in the attempt to both understand and reconstruct the world from the situated perspective of MDUs based on their own words, drawings and emotions.

The narratives and drawings of participants show another cityscape, radically different from the hegemonic discourses and mappings antagonizing MDUs and making their existence a social problem. Space appears as a means of marginalization: there are barely any places that MDUs can legitimately appropriate-least of all so-called “public space.” By contrast, MDUs’ imaginaries of an ideal city would accommodate their existence and address further social justice issues.

The notion of “public places” appears unable to express MDU’s experiences. Instead of focusing on the problem of public spaces, policymakers should tackle the question of placemaking for MDUs beyond the level of solely drug-related places.

Drugs (Counter) Mapping Book Project

Drugs are fascinating, because of their effects on mind and body, but also because of our ideas and images of them. A part of human culture for millennia, psychoactive substances have been celebrated and widely integrated into society on the one hand, and framed as evil and prohibited across the world on the other. From local production and use to global trade, they are often tied to crime, vice and discourses of fear.

Cartographic representations contribute to these imaginaries, for example with streams of trade between global south and global north or hotspots of dangerous urban areas. These representations raise concerns, since drugs are a nexus of multidimensional power relationships. The very idea of mapping drugs is rejected by many drug users and advocates.

This book will share alternative knowledge about drugs, from production to consumption. Experimenting with new visualisations and new graphic languages, it will foster other imaginations and understandings of this global phenomenon. Compiling case studies in text and graphic form, it promotes a better understanding of the complexity behind the word, “drugs”.

VIDEO – “Drugs in Party Spaces and Gender”

Videos of the event on the 17.05.21 in Bordeaux.

Emily Nicholls (University of Portsmouth)
“Girl Time”, wine and crossing the line: embodying class and gender through drinking on the Girls’ Night Out

Roxane Scavo (CNRS Passages), Mapping gender and festive drug consumption in Bordeaux

Jenny Künkel (CNRS Passages): Negotiating Drugs and Sex in Contemporary Feminist Party Spaces

Gemma Blok (Open University of the Netherlands): Rave girls in the Netherlands: contested women’s liberation in the 1990s

VIDEO – COVID et usagèr.e.s de drogue à Bordeaux: interview d’Olivier Capdeboscq, La Case (06/05/2021)

Interview d’Olivier Capdeboscq, coordinateur de La Case à Bordeaux, structure de réduction des risques et d’accueil des usagèr.e.s de drogue, à propos des enjeux liés au COVID. L’interview aborde les questions liées à l’hébergement, l’espace public, la santé, la réduction des risques et évoque le projet d’ouverture d’une salle de consommation. Interview par Roxane Scavo et Mélina Germes. Co-organisé par Jenny Künkel.

Video with edited english subtitles.

Interview with Olivier Capdeboscq, coordinator of Bordeaux drug support and risk reduction facility La Case, about issues linked to Covid. This interview covers subjects including housing, public space, health, risk reduction and the project of a drug consumption room in the city. Interview by Roxane Scavo and Mélina Germes. Co-organised by Jenny Künkel.

Genders and Drugs: report on a workshop and a conference

Governing the Narcotic City
Newsletter n°3, December 2020

  • Everyday life in Christiania – and the fight around Pusher Street (Sage Anderson)
  • Contribute to the “PartyZine – Drugs Genders and Me!” (Mélina Germes)
  • A collective Discussion around the PartyZine Project in Bordeaux (Mélina Germes)
  • Questioning Drugs in Affective or Sexual Relationships (Mélina Germes)

CfP “Drug places between knowledge and representations”

Journal Drug and Alcohol Today

Guest Editors:

Mélina Germes, Bernd Werse & Marie Jauffret-Roustide

The aim of this special issue on drug places is to focus on the spatiality of drug and alcohol practices and policies, in order to question how researchers do explicitly or implicitly spatialise practices and policies.

More Infos:

Continue reading

Emotional Mapping – Towards a geographical explanation of drug use

Luise Klaus & Mélina Germes
“Emotional Mapping. Towards a geographical explanation of drug use”

In: Kaló, Zsuzsa; Tieberghien, Julie, Korf, Dirk J. (Eds.), Why? Explanations for drug use and drug dealing in social drug research. Pabst Science Publishers, 2019.


In Europe, most open drug scenes have similar spatial and social characteristics, especially in the growing dynamic of gentrification. This may potentially marginalise more drug users in public spaces. The cities face the same challenges in terms of governance. Within a perspective rooted in critical cartography and social geography, we propose emotional mapping as a method of conceiving urban lived spaces of drug users in European cities, with the aim of considering marginalised drug users as the subjects of their narratives and spatial representations. The method allows a complex analysis of the spatial experiences of urban space. It shows how the emotional appropriation of space by drug users is embedded in the structural socio-spatial exclusion phenomenon in Europe. Continue reading

Night-time drug policy: adjusting harm reduction implementation strategies in nightlife festive settings in France

Cecilia Comelli, Elora Fahlke


For the 13th session of the ISSDP conference, we would like to present a study we conducted as part of the Drug and Urban Security (Drusec) project, which was funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from 2017 to 2020. DRUSEC is a joint Franco-German social science research project that combines approaches from sociology, geography, public health, and substance abuse studies. Its aim is to study issues of public safety stemming from drug and alcohol use in public and semi-public spaces of French and German cities. It is a large-scale project anchored in multiple disciplines, various types of fieldwork, and different research models. For this presentation, we have decided to focus on an issue that a sociologist and a geographer from our team examined here in France: harm reduction in festive settings. Continue reading

Portfolio of Emo-mapping in some German cities

In this portfolio of colored illustrations of a chapter published in the ESSD Conference Book 2019 we present very briefly some empirical material collected during emo-mapping interviews in Berlin (Mélina Germes, together with Francesca Guarascio and Christian Hergesell from NUDRA Project), Frankfurt am Main, Nuremberg and Munich (Luise Klaus). Continue reading

Drug policies within urban spaces: Emotional mapping as an innovative qualitative cartography method

Mélina Germes, Luise Klaus
ISSDP Conference, Paris, May 2019

This work is in progress. A key aspect of the interdisciplinarity of our work is that we aim to bring a geographical approach to research on drug policies. First, I will further explain what we mean with “drug policies are urban policies”. From our perspective as urban geographers, we aim to understand drug policies as part of urban policies. For three reasons:

– First, local actors like health institutions, police forces, harm-reduction agencies and municipalities play a key role in the implementation of drug policies.

– Second, all drug policies are strongly spatially structured: the localisation of harm reduction facilities in certain neighbourhoods depends from the geographies of drug consumption and its analysis by policy actors.

– Third, drug consumption itself has particular geographies, strongly bounded to the broader socio-economic geography of the cities.

A comprehensive analysis of drug policies and their challenges has to consider the city as a whole AND the other urban policies led by other institutions. In order to do so, we developed a method we called “emotional mapping”. Continue reading