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Mapping “Drug Places” from Below. The Lived Cities of Marginalized Drug Users

Abstract : Purpose: On top of their legal, economic, social and institutional marginalization, marginalized drug users 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 marginalized drug users urban spaces in several German cities. Approach: Following a socio-geographical approach, this paper interrogates how marginalized drug users 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 marginalized drug users based on their own words, drawings and emotions. Findings: The narratives and drawings of participants show another cityscape, radically different from the hegemonic discourses and mappings antagonizing marginalized drug users and making their existence a social problem. Space appears as a means of marginalization: there are barely any places that marginalized drug users can legitimately appropriate – least of all so-called “public space”. By contrast, marginalized drug users’ imaginaries of an ideal city would accommodate their existence and address further social justice issues. Originality: The notion of “public places” appears unable to express marginalized drug user’s experiences. Instead of focusing on the problem of public spaces, policymakers should tackle the question of place-making for MDUs, beyond the level of solely drug-related places.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03251392
Contributor : Mélina Germes <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 4:09:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 3:38:18 AM

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Mélina Germes, Luise Klaus, Svea Steckhan. Mapping “Drug Places” from Below. The Lived Cities of Marginalized Drug Users. Drugs and Alcohol Today, Emerald Publishing, 2021, Drug Places between Knowledge and Representations, 21 (3), pp.201-212. ⟨10.1108/DAT-12-2020-0085⟩. ⟨halshs-03251392⟩

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