In and out of place

Authors: Rachel Searcey*, Loughborough University
Topics: Sexuality, Cultural Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: sex work, place, out of place, professional support, drug treatment, vulnerability, isolation, exclusion
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geographers have long since spoken of the importance of place, which travels freely with individuals. However, in humanistic geography the concept of place goes beyond the physical landscape; place is the being in the world – the embodied meanings and attachments to particular places and environments (Tuan, 1977). Whilst place is a fundamental concept in geography, the interconnection with out of place (Cresswell, 1996) is rarely considered within a supportive context. Taking inspiration from Cresswell’s study of out of place, this paper will explore the connection between the concept of place and out of place using ethnographic data assembled from a sex workers project during a drop-in session for drug treatment. Individual support at the sex worker project to exit street sex work and/or drug addiction was a place of emotional safety and security for some of the women, but it also unearthed experiences out of place, othering the individuals. The research identified during times of personal achievements for drug abstinence (in some instances) also fractured the individual social networks, reverting emotional safety and security to a place of vulnerability, isolation and othering. This paper will look at how lifestyle changes can alter the ‘being within’ a safe and supportive environment, to a place of difference putting individuals at risk of retracting from support and lapses in the drug treatment maintenance stage, compromising the pathways of change.

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