June 28, 2008

On Anthropology, Participant Observation, and Non-Places

Category: Academic,Anthropology — Biella @ 2:10 am

When you are in a foreign city, Dakar, Tunis, Tokyo, the spaces and sights are disorienting for they unfamiliar. But there are a few spots (hotels, supermarkets), that bring you back the familiar and these places have been theorized by French Anthropologist Marc Auge as non-spaces. Here is a nice interview with Auge on the difference between ethnology, anthropology, as well as his description of non-places:

I tried to characterize these new emerging spaces by the term “non-places” which empirically makes note of the extension of these new spaces in our world; spaces of circulation giving us the sense that the earth is small, spaces of communication (possibly virtual spaces), or even of consumption, since a large part of what circulates aims to put products into circulation (and possibly the men who produce them) such that the activity of consumption reproduces society itself. Such spaces of circulation, of communication and consumption, including the technical capabilities that make it possible for them to be visited or concentrated (the airport, the supermarket, the freeway, etc.), are what I have designated by the term “non-place”.

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