Dr. Mélina Germes | Associated Researcher

Mobilities, Migrations, Reconfiguration of Spaces
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: melina.germes  ( at )  cnrs.fr Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700

Home Institution : CNRS PASSAGES UMR 5319 | Position : CNRS Researcher | Disciplines : Criminology , Sociology , Urban Geography |


After a PhD in Social Geography on the urban practices of shopping and the urban construction of identities under the supervision of Guy Di Méo (University of Bordeaux Montaigne) in the 2000s, my postdoctoral career led me to Germany.

Within the Neue Kulturgeographie, the German-speaking critical geography and critical criminology, between Mainz (2008-9), Erlangen (2009-2011) and Berlin (Marc Bloch Center, 2011-2013), my postdoctoral research focused on the influence of security and securitization on the urban. At the turn of the 2010s, I studied the discursive construction of French "banlieues" in media, politics, and police practices. Reflections on crime maps (mostly simple maps of burglaries) led me to explore the place of cartography and technology in police work and police cultures, their (mis)uses and functions, from pin maps to predictive policing. I entered the CNRS as permanent researcher in 2013.

This research on the uses of space in the security field has evolved with the study of urban drug policies, a field in which criminalization is compounded by other issues such as health and social risks. At the turn of the 2020s, I returned to the study of personal experiences of space and place, in dialogue with the sociology of drugs and with a research practice anchored in critical cartography and the study of emotions, by studying the processes of marginalization, between subjectivization and representation. My reflections on the institutional use of maps extended to the mapping of used syringes in Berlin. Based on these reflections on the (counter)cartographies of crime and drugs, I am now working on the notion of "(a)moral cartography".

The contexts and modalities of scientific work in the humanities and social sciences are of particular interest to me in two ways.

Institutional and linguistic contexts (French or German) shape the ways of thinking and producing knowledge, as we have been able to show in several collective publications on translation. I am co-editing 2024 a themed issue on "Theoretical Work in French-Language Geographies" in the Geographische Zeitschrift.

Furthermore, the way in which academic structures and cultures produce (dis)ableism, (in)accessibility and exclusion, is questioned by the REHF, a recent network of French-speaking researchers in the field of critical disability studies.

(A)moral cartographies

Cartography is one of the knowledge technologies that are increasingly shaping not only the contemporary world, but also the way we represent it. This project examines how maps developed in the context of security or public health policies are used, discussed and contested, in the light of the notion of (a)morality.

Knowledge technologies are increasingly shaping the contemporary world. Cartography, and in particular geographic information systems (GIS), are part of this, and are thus intensively mobilized within the framework of health and security policies, particularly urban policies, whether by institutional actors or politics from below. These representations of space circulate in contemporary media and shape the way societies perceive, apprehend and conceive their world. Health and safety cartographies thus raise a number of questions, concerning their historicity - the first appeared two centuries ago; their moral economy - they represent health or safety deviations from an ideal social order; and the apparent scientification of forms of social control. These cartographies are the subject of various critiques: cartographic, geographical, militant, social; and give rise to alternative cartographies, replacing or opposing the former. New counter-mapographies reconfigure both technological tools and imaginary worlds, in order to share other knowledge and highlight other representations. In so doing, they propose other cartographic "morals", other principles and other standards.

With the aim of questioning the production, use and detour of (a)moral cartographies, this project draws on distinct currents in the Franco-German social sciences: STS, critical cartography, social and political geographies. It combines the study of institutional mapping practices with the experimentation of alternative cartographies, in various fields such as predictive policing in the Länderpolizei, the detour of criminal analysis in the French Gendarmerie or the cartographies of Berlin's Suchthilfepolitik.


Recent books


Exhaustive list of publications here : https://cv.hal.science/melina-germes