Berlin's queer archipelago: Landscape, sexuality, and nightlife

Johan Andersson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The metaphor of the archipelago has informed ideas about Berlin's post-war and post-wall fractured urban landscape as well as recent work on sexual minorities in the city. In the context of Berlin's landscape, the image refers to green islands of spontaneous vegetation on sites left behind by bomb damage and border infrastructure, while in scholarship on sexuality, it suggests a more dispersed distribution of minority nightlife than in the traditional focus on the gayborhood. The two meanings come together in many of Berlin's electronic dance music clubs, which are located in overgrown voids—or Brachen in German—and form a queer archipelago outside the heteronormative grid. Drawing on insights from queer and ruderal ecology, as well as some of the memory literature from the early German reunification era, this paper explores these club islands in relation to the landscape term terrain vague. By focusing on two sites in the former East Berlin borough of Friedrichshain—Wriezener Park, next to the city's most famous club Berghain, and the Brache-turned-dance club ://about blank—Berlin's current status as a global centre for queer club culture is understood through the lens of its unusual urban landscape and spectral ecologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransactions of the institute of british geographers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Berlin
  • history
  • landscape
  • nightlife
  • queer ecology
  • queer theory


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