ENCOUNTERING THE CITY: ON ‘NOT TAKING YOURSELF WITH YOU’

in Urban Mindscapes of Europe
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The urban anthropologist Franco La Cecla refers to the Socratean warning against ‘taking yourself with you’ on your travels to strange lands and the danger, if we do, that we risk ‘colonising with our presence every step of the journey’ for ‘to know new places corresponds in this century with denying their difference’. This paper considers the event of encounter with the unknown city, emphasising the broader implications of the act of transition (with its etymological traces of ‘passing through’, ‘being infected’ as well as ‘going over to the enemy’). Drawing on Marc Augé’s theory of the ‘abstractly familiar non-places of supermodernity’ in antithetical conjunction with the ‘strangely familiar’ experience of the Freudian uncanny, the paper analyses what is involved for the identity of the subject in the suspended process of de-/re-orientation.

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