Joséphine LECUYER

Associate Professor in Human Geography

University of Orleans



Research theme
Rural spaces, Shrinkage, local development, Eastern Germany, Social Geography

Transversal subjects
Stabilities and fluidity of geographical objects

10 rue de Tours, BP 46527
45 100 Orléans (France)


Thesis – abstract

Coutering peripheralization. Public action and local development strategies in rural areas of eastern Germany (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)

This thesis aims at analysing the complexity and ambiguities of the logic, projects and actors of local development in “peripheralised” German rural areas. “Peripheralisation” (Peripherisierung) refers to a process in which migration deficit, economic weakening, political dependency and stigmatisation interact. The objective is to understand to what extent rural development policies implemented at all levels aim to counteract peripheralisation, while sometimes increasing territorial inequalities between peripheralised areas. This work is based on a cross-case analysis of three LEADER regions in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a Land marked by all four dimensions of peripheralisation. Drawing on statistical, cartographic and discursive analyses, the thesis is organised into two parts.

The first part draws up an analytical inventory of the demographic shift and the different types of peripherality in Germany, using quantitative and qualitative approaches at several scales. It shows that the rural areas of Northeast Germany combine all aspects of peripheralisation, while being marked by different degrees of peripherality. The second part highlights the complex system of stakeholders and regulatory measures set up to strengthen the development of rural areas. It also evaluates the extent to which local stakeholders seize these policies and implement strategies to circumvent or even instrumentalise the tools at their disposal.


2022 : PhD (Geography), University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

2017 : MA in German Studies, University Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle

2016 : MA in Geography, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Scientific activities

2019-2020: Co-animation of a seminar on rural studies, UMR Géographie-cités

Project participation

International projects

2019-2021: Formation & Research Program of the CIERA, « A sky still divided? Germany’s East and West, thirty years after reunification », Marc Bloch Center (Berlin), Géographie-cités – University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Centre B/Orders in motion of the University Viadrina (Frankfurt Oder)

Teaching and advising

Courses taught

2021-2022: Lecturer, Department of Geography, University Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint-Denis
▪ Rural Geography, L2
▪ Statistics and cartography, L2
▪ Introduction to cartography, L1
▪ International migrations, L3

2020-2021: Lecturer, Department of Geography, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
▪ Statistics and cartography, L2 (26h)
▪ GIS, L3 (50h)
▪ Introduction to GIS, L2 (20h)

2017-2020: Teaching assistant, Department of Geography, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
▪ Rural societies and spaces, L2 (101h)
▪ Social and spatial issues, L3 (39h)
▪ Territorial analysis, L1, (26h)
▪ Statistics and cartography, L2 (26h)

MA supervision

2021: LEDAIN E., « Les mobilités dans les espaces ruraux le long de l’ancienne frontière interallemande. Etude de cas », Univserity Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, co-supervized with Beatrice von Hirschhausen (CNRS)

2020: NIEDERLANDER E., « L’ancienne frontière interallemande, aménagement et enjeux de protection de l’environnement. Le cas du Monument Naturel National du Grünes Band Thüringen », Univserity Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, co-supervized with Christophe Quéva (Paris 1)


Journal articles

LECUYER J., 2022, « What are the consequences of German unification on the development prospects of a rural Land in northeast Germany? », Revue d’Allemagne et des pays de langue allemande, 54-2, pp. 499-514.

LECUYER J., 2022, « Mobilizing the LEADER program in a context of decline: local strategies of adaptation to a European rural development policy », Revue d’économie régionale et urbaine, 18p.

LECUYER J., 2021, « Rural heritage and local development in the Mecklenburg countryside (Germany): what alternatives to peripheralization?», Belgeo, 13p.

LECUYER J., 2019, « Demographic change and public action in the New Lander (Germany): scales and strategies », Revue géographique de l’Est, 24p.

Conference proceedings

LECUYER J., 2020, « Small cities and peripheralization in east-Germany: development perspectives », Small and Medium-Sized Cities, Services and Territories: An International Perspective on Urban Shrinkage, CIST, p.288-291

Other publication

LECUYER J., 2023, « Coutering peripheralization. Public action and local development strategies in rural areas of eastern Germany (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) », Trajectoires, n°16 (Rubrique SynThèse), en ligne.

Talks and presentations

International talks

LECUYER J., 2023, « Learning about innovation or standardisation? The European LEADER programme in peripheral regions (Germany)”, Declining Territories: Innovation Laboratories?», 6e colloque international du CIST, 15-17 November, Aubervilliers

ROTH H. & LECUYER J., 2023, « Stadterneuerung von Kleinstädten und Aufnahme von Asylsuchenden in Frankreich », Kleine Städte in Zeiten großer Herausforderungen: Aktuelle Fragen und Perspektiven für die Kleinstadtforschung, German Congress of Geography (DKG), 20-23 September, Francfurt

LECUYER J., 2023, « Do the LEADER funding rules generate spatial inequalities? The case of a peripheral region in north-east Germany », Reflections and new directions in a multilevel approach to local (rural) development, Rural Geographies in Transition, 3rd European Rural Geographies Conference, 26-29 June, Groningen (The Netherlands)

LECUYER J., 2023, « Implementing alternative measures to limit peripheralization: the case of West Pomerania (Germany)», Shaping rural transition: How to empower local communities?, Rural Geographies in Transition, 3rd European Rural Geographies Conference, 26-29 June, Groningen (The Netherlands)

LECUYER J., 2022, « Between utopia and reality, The imaginary future of a shrinking countryside (Germany)», Spaces And Places Of The Imagined Futures (Colloque UGI-IGU, le Temps des géographes/Time for Geographers), 18-22 July, Paris

LECUYER J., 2020, «  Small cities and peripheralization in east-Germany: development perspectives », Small and Medium-Sized Cities, Services and Territories: An International Perspective on Urban Shrinkage, CIST, (5e international symposium CIST), 18-21 November, Aubervilliers – online

National talks

LECUYER J., 2023, « Land of misery or natural paradise? Cross-narratives of a rural region in North-East Germany », Workshop du programme PROCOPE “Future Narratives of Small Towns”, 20-22 November, Clermont-Ferrand

LECUYER J., 2023, « Representations of the European Union in the countryside of eastern Germany through the European rural development programme LEADER », Conference Thinking and building Europe at local level: a territorial approach, 20 October, Rouen

LECUYER J. & ROTH H., 2023, « Revitalisation of small towns and reception of refugees in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes », Workshop of the PROCOPE Programme “Future Narratives of Small Towns”, 19-22 June, Cottbus

LECUYER J., 2023, « Local development strategies of small cities facing peripheralization: three case studies from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern », Workshop of the PROCOPE Programme “Future Narratives of Small Towns”, 19-22 June, Cottbus

LECUYER J. 2021, « Public policy and changing attitudes to rural areas: ‘without the countryside, we’d be very cramped’.», Colloque Le Moment rural: ruralities in question (UMR 5194 PACTE; Université Grenoble Alpes), 16-17 September, Mirabel

LECUYER J. 2021, « We have to believe in our identity or no one will believe in it’: local stakeholders and the region in the making », Conference Territories and development trajectories: relational dynamics as a key to renewed analysis, 16-17 June, Angers

LECUYER J., 2020, « Regionale Entwicklungsstrategien und das LEADER-Programm: der ausdifferenzierte Einsatz eines europäischen Politikinstruments», Schatten der Einheit? Deutsch-deutsche Perspektiven nach dreißig Jahren Wiedervereinigung (Center b/orders in motion- Europa Universität Viadrina), 11-13 November, Francfort sur l’Oder – en ligne

LECUYER J., 2020 « What impact has German unification had on the development prospects of a rural Land in north-east Germany?», Germany, 30 years on: from unification to unity? (interdisciplinary conference MISHA-MSHL-CIERA), 1-2 October, Strasbourg

LECUYER J., 2020, « Politische Antworten auf den demografischen Wandel auf lokalen und regionalen Ebenen », Workshop Ein immer noch geteilter Himmel? Deutschlands Osten und Weste, dreißig Jahre nach der Wiedervereinigung (Programme Formation Recherche du CIERA), 17 January, Berlin

LECUYER J., 2019, « Contrasting paths of small cities of a rural and peripheral region of MecklenburgWest Pomerania », Small and medium-sized cities, services and territories: a Franco-German perspective (journée d’étude du LabEx DynamiTe), 5 July, Paris

LECUYER J., 2018, « Between decline and innovation: local development strategies in rural areas of eastern Germany», Interdisciplinary meeting of young researchers of the CIERA, 3 February, Paris

Presentations in research seminar

ROTH H., LECUYER J., ARFAOUI R., 2023, « Urban regeneration and welcoming exiles in the declining towns of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes », Séminaire du groupe thématique DynaTERR Dynamiques et transitions des territoires (UMR Territoires), 24 novembre, Clermont-Ferrand

LECUYER J. & MONDAIN M., 2022, «Small towns and degrowth. Crossed approaches France/Germany », Séminaire de l’équipe C.R.I.A. (UMR Géographie-cités), 11 mars, Aubervilliers

LECUYER J., 2021, « What local development strategies for shrinking rural areas?», Séminaire de recherche du master VARAP, (UMR LADYSS, Université Paris 8), 8 décembre, Saint-Denis

LECUYER J., 2021, « Competition and competitiveness in a changing territorial context. Development prospects for the shrinking German countryside », Séminaire du GT Métropolisation et espaces ruraux : comparaisons Nords/Suds (LabEx DynamiTe), 19 mars, Aubervilliers

LECUYER J., 2021, « Shrinking or peripheralization? Understanding local development in rural areas of north-east Germany », Séminaire Ruralités à Géographie-cités, 15 février, Aubervilliers

LECUYER J., 2020, « Local life and public policy on either side of the former inter-German border », Séminaire du pôle Mobilités, migrations et recomposition des espaces (Centre Marc Bloch), 20 octobre, Berlin

LECUYER J., 2019, «Shrinking in rural areas: a brake on local development or a framework for the affirmation of innovative approaches? », Séminaire de l’équipe P.A.R.I.S. (UMR Géographie-cités), 18 octobre, Paris

LECUYER J., 2019, « Ein französischer Blick auf drei Regionen des Landes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern », Agrar-und Umweltwissenschaftliche Fakultät (séminaire d’équipe), 20 mai, Rostock

LECUYER J., 2019, « Mecklenburg-Vorpommern aus einer französischen Perspektive », Seminar Siedlung und Gebäude in ländlichen Räumen, 16 avril, Rostock

LECUYER J. et VERHAEGHE L., 2018, « Urban-rural relations from a geographer’s perspective », Séance des Petits déjeuners des doctorants (UMR Géographie-Cités), 9 février, Paris

Administrative responsibilities

2019-2022: PhD students’ representative

Honors, Awards and Fellowships

2022 Research grant, Marc Bloch Center (Berlin), 3 months

2019 Research grant, DAAD (Greifswald), 2 months

2018 Research grant, CIERA (Berlin), 2 months