eBook Marc Augé ï Non lieux introduction à une anthropologie de la ï

An ever increasing proportion of our lives is spent in supermarkets airports and hotels on motorways or in front of TVs computer and cash machines This invasion of the world by what Marc Auge calls ‘non space’ results in a profound alteration of awareness something we perceive but only in a partial and incoherent manner Auge uses the concept of ‘supermodernity’ to describe the logic of these late capitalist phenomena—a logic of excessive information and excessive space In this fascinating and lucid essay he seeks to establish and intellectual armature for an anthropology of supermodernity Starting with an attempt to disentangle anthropology from history Auge goes on to map the distinction between place encrusted with historical monuments and creative social life and non place to which individuals are connected in a uniform manner and where no organic social life is possibleUnlike Baudelairean modernity where old and new are interwoven supermodernity is self contained from the motorway or aircraft local or exotic particularities are presented two dimensionally as a sort of theme park spectacle Auge does not suggest that supermodernity is all encompassing place still exist outside non place and tend to reconstitute themselves inside it But he argues powerfully that we are in transit through non place for and of our time as if between immense parentheses and concludes that this new form of solitude should become the subject of an anthropology of its own

10 thoughts on “Non lieux introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité

  1. says:

    Augé like any number of other theorists is almost of a belle lettrist than a philosopher or social scientist These theorists who seem to prioritize elegant writing over systematic knowledge are sometimes brilliant Benjamin Barthes and sometimes blithering Baudrillard Certeau I'm not uite sure which Augé isFirst of all his definition of non places strikes me as pretty suspect an deeply rooted in some of the discreditable brands of mid century structuralist thought However a number of ideas he expresses are provocative even fascinating I just find it somewhat bothersome that he as an anthropological and geographic investigator chooses to write his arguments through spiderwebs of Jesuitical axioms and the structure of myth rather than groundwork and legwork As a connoisseur of spatial thought I would compare this to Bachelard's Poetics of Space; both are totally fascinating and almost completely inapplicable but thought provoking reads

  2. says:

    A marvellous discussion of supermodernity but I'm a little skeptical of the notion of non spaces It seems to me that all places are potentially non places and all spaces that are framed as non places in this book are potentially anthropological places too My friend gave the most amazing example when we were discussing this an airport is not a non place for a person who works at the airport and goes there every day Therefore this is a very loose definition and to be fair Augé does acknowledge the fluidity of these definitions to a certain extent but I still feel as though it doesn't suffice to give these loose definitions and leave it at that I would have expected two or three chapters in which he'd actually do something with these notions; that would have made this book a much better read

  3. says:

    The premise of the book is interesting non places lack the significance to be really considered as spaces; they are spaces that are not anthropologically places However the book falls short Auge concentrates on defining what an anthropological space is although people with even a fairly basic knowledge of anthropology will know this At the same time he often is vague on the concept of non places as a result of which I have so much doubts about the concept that I do not see it as a useful tool When he writes of airports as non places I am reminded of the narrator's discussion of airports in Palahniuk's Fight Club; but then I realize that people work there and for them it is an anthropological space Second of all sticking to the airport we can easily see it as a anthropological place despite its super modern ualities The way airports are divided into different places the way we interact with security the VIP lounges and waiting rooms etc where interaction takes place which is characterized by its own rules and seems to form a place that transcends locationTaking transit into account when most of us take a bus subway or fly somewhere it is true we do so in virtual isolation But think of the field trip or when a group of people travel together eg annually to an annual retreat or a business camp which will result in a completely different way that a given space is used Similarly the hotel room it seems a non place at first but if we shift our attention to a concrete room we may find history eg a room once occupied by a well known person in the Chelsea Hotel The same could be said about a specific supermarket or shopping center particularly when it is not used as a place to engage in consumer activity but a social space Think off mall rats who are just there the young people who redefine these spaces by using them as places to go out for a date In this context it may make such space seem like places than a historic tourist attraction which is approached in the post hyper modern way Auge discusses Further the assumption that one is anonymous in such non spaces an individual without links to the community seems either myopic or deemphasizing the way a space is used by those visiting it Even problematically this raises uestions of the existence of non places prior to super modernity I also have an issue with his view that entering non places takes away our identity in the social sense and we only are identified when entering or exiting a non place This argument completely falls apart if you use cash rather than a check or credit card an issue Auge adroitly avoids which is problematic in light of the view that we are always observed and never anonymous in a 'panopticonic' world When one visits a supermarket or anything else that is deemed a non place and meets a colleague friend etc this stops applying We can say that Auge mentions that the traveler he discusses and by extension shopper or anyone else in a non place is alone However this is problematic the same rule seems to apply to many pre super modern spaces This beckons at the old conundrum of the tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it if I visit a supermarket and no one is there to identify me have I visited the supermarket? Barring the uestion of self consciousness I identified myself in the supermarket which Auge does by separating an individual from a society this is not again limited only to super modernity but to a broader uestion of how society functions also think of taboo places that existed had an anthropological role as myths but were not ventured intoAuge is not reckless in his argument and he mentions mentions whereas it should be emphasized that the status of a non place is fluid preparing for such contingencies but he never seems to give them any thought as a result of which he creates the impression of being dismissive of them Further he draws very heavily on the work of Michel de Certeau which he simply places in the context of what he calls 'the three excesses of super modernity' which undermines the originality of his discussionAuge tries to place the notion of non places in the area of politics This is risky and I consider it ill advised First of all he sees the status of a non place as fluid If it is for this uality that he believes such places are eg targets of terrorist attacks a very problematic statement in this day and age or lead to the strengthening of nationalist politics which aim to give places their significance But if we take his entire argument into account it seems that they are actually protesting in his context as it seems that recent history invalidated parts of this hypothesis against the way a place is usedTentatively I think that the book suffers from comparisons to other anthropological texts while ignoring western historicity and being vague about a number of differences I think that it is possible to find examples of non places in times preceding super modernity How does a modern day supermarket differ from a marketplace of 400 years ago? Is a modern mom and pop store a non place? How does a a modern day passenger differ from a traveler and why is a 'traditional' train a place whereas the TGV is not? Auge's text never offers us any insight into these uestions even if he employs them in his text such as the travelerpassenger or SNCFTGV dichotomies By doing so in a seemingly arbitrary manner he seems to be undermining his own argumentThe book left me nonplussed but the fact that I wrote such a long and likely rambling review shows that it has the potential to challenge certain assumptions and definitely is thought provoking despite of its shortcomings

  4. says:

    ‘If a place can be defined as relational historical and concerned with identity then a space which cannot be defined as relational or historical or concerned with identity will be a non place’Tourist non places ‘Travel constructs a fictional landscape between gaze and landscape And while we use the word ‘space’ to describe to freuentation of places which specifically defines the journey we should still remember that there are spaces in which the individual feels himself to be a spectator without paying much attention to the spectacle A lot of tourism leaflets suggest this deflection this reversal of the gaze by offering the would be traveller advance images of curious or contemplative faces solitary or in groups gazing across infinite oceans scanning ranges of snow capped mountains or wondrous urban skylines his own image in a word his anticipated image which speaks only about him but carries another name Tahiti Alpe d’Huez New York The traveller’s space may thus be the archetype of non place 86 Paradoxically 'a foreigner lost in a country he does not know can feel at home there only in the anonymity of motorways service stations big stores or hotel chains’ 106Monuments ‘Without the monumental illusion before the eyes of the living history would be a mere abstractionStrangely it is a set of breaks and discontinuities in space that express continuity in time’ 60Motorway city slogans and town twinning signs ‘In a way these signs give proof of modernity and integration in the new European economic spaceHistorical depth is vaunted in the same breath as openness to the outside world as if one were the euivalent to the othermaking the historical context explicit in this way which in fact is uite a recent practice coincides with a reorganization of space the creation of bypasses and main motorway routes avoiding towns’ 68 ‘The landscape keeps it distance but its natural or architectural details give rise to a text sometimes supplemented by schematic plan when it appears that the passing traveller is not really in the position to see the remarkable feature drawn to his attention and thus has to derive what pleasure he can from the mere knowledge of its proximity Motorway travel is thus doubly remarkable it avoids for functional reasons all the principal places to which it takes us; and makes comments on them’ 97The urgency of the present moment ‘Everything proceeds as if space had been trapped by time as if there were no history other than the last forty eight hours of news as if each individual history were drawing its motives its words and images from the inexhaustible stock of an unending history in the present’ 104

  5. says:

    A little gem of a meditation on the distinction between anthropological places formed by social bonds and collective history and non places of atomized individual travel and consumption This is the non silly vein of French theory grounded urbane a delight to read crammed with provocative concepts presented in a graceful style uite wonderful

  6. says:

    I thought this was so fun

  7. says:

    Marc Augé’s Non Places Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity is fascinating His book is useful because it offers a theoretical framework for understanding why we think of some places the way we do in particular there is a description of places that can put us in contact with a social structure because there is a very close consubstantial link between space and social organizationAt the same time he noticed the proliferation in the contemporary world of spaces in which no lasting social relations are established transit spaces spaces people pass through he suggested calling those spaces non places to suggest that in those contexts there were a total absence of symbolic ties and evident social deficits''Clearly the word ‘non place’ designates two complementary but distinct realities spaces formed in relation to certain ends transport transit commerce leisure and the relations that individuals have these spaces Although the two sets of relations overlap to a large extent and in any case officially individuals travel make purchases relax they are still not confused with one another; for non places mediate a whole mass of relations with the self and with others which are only indirectly connected with their purposes As anthropological places create the organically so non places create solitary contractuality''''If a place can be defined as relational historical and concerned with identity then a space which cannot be defined as relation or historical or concerned with identity will be a non place The hypothesis advanced here is that supermodernity produces non places meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which unlike Baudelairean modernity do not integrate the earlier places instead these are listed classified promoted to the status of ‘places of memory’ and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position A world where people are born in the clinic and die in hospital where transit points and temporary abodes are proliferating under luxurious or inhuman conditions hotels chains and suats ''

  8. says:

    Good uote Everything proceeds as if space had been trapped by time as if there were no history other than the last 48 hours of news as if each individual history were drawing its motive its words and images from the inexhaustible stock of an unending history in the present 84and Ethnology of solitude The community of human destinies is experienced in the anonymity of non place and in solitude

  9. says:

    An assigned reading for one of my classes it reflects on the conseuences homogenization can have when applied to the design process of architecture

  10. says:

    It is an interesting introduction to the non places theme and not only for anthropologists mostly though but also for laymen just like me who are into different themes in literature I decided to read it as I was studying the literary cartography and the changes of maps throughout the centuries I especially enjoyed the prologue for the book which at first confuses and surprises but if you go on reading the book it all becomes clear I must say though that it is uite difficult to grasp especially when one did not study anthroplogy before as Auge touches upon different anthropologist themes which I have never encountered before A good read but a demanding one