Marc Augé – ‘Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity’

Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity – an essay by Marc Augé, an anthropologist about the theory surrounding the idea of non-places. Unfortunately, I only came across this essay towards the end of my project, which is both good and bad at the same time. There was a lot that Augé mentions in this essay that would have been a fantastic starting point to this project, but nevertheless, the imagery that I have produced over the past couple of months has been properly grounded by the theoretical knowledge I have acquired. I have attached a few extracts from this reading that I believe to be particularly influential, and upon reading them, a lot of things slotted into place regarding things that I have been trying to resolve throughout this project.

“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 with these spaces.” (Augé, M. p 94, 1995)

“Sometimes it is only vaguely discernible behind the injunctions, advice, commentaries and ‘messages’ transmitted by the innumerable ‘supports’ (signboards, screens, posters) that form an integral part of the contemporary landscape.” (Augé, M. p96, 1995)

“Thus we can contrast the realities of transit (transit camps or passengers in transit with those of residence or dwelling; the interchange (where nobody crosses anyone else’s path) with the crossroads (where people meet); the passenger (defined by his destination) with the traveler (who strolls along his route), the housing estate, where people do not live together and which is never situated in the centre of anything (big estates characterise the so-called peripheral zones or outskirts), with the monument where people share and commemorate; communication (with its codes, images and strategies) with language (which is spoken.” (Augé, M. p.108, 1995)

“The non-place is the opposite of utopia: it exists, and it does not contain organic society.” (Auge, M. p.111, 1995)

“Peculiarity that [non-places] are partly defined by the words and texts they offer us: their ‘instructions for use’, which may be prescriptive (take the right hand lane), prohibitive (no smoking) or informative (you are now entering the Beaujolais region)” (Auge, M. p.96, 1995)



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