Old Paris Is No More: Geographies of Spectacle and Anti-Spectacle

David Pinder

Antipode 32(4): 357-386

2000


ISSN/ISBN: 0066-4812
DOI: 10.1111/1467-8330.00142
Accession: 062949905

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Abstract
The term 'spectacle' has played an important role in recentcritical discussions of vision and visuality. In human geography it has often been used to designate new forms of capitalist urban development associated with display and show. This paper examines aspects of the term by addressing the critique of the spectacle developed by the situationist Guy Debord. It situates his writings on the subject back into the context of his engagements with the modern city between the 1950s and 1970s, especially in Paris, where hespent much of his life. In particular, it reads these writings in terms both of his bleak view of urban change and alienation under capitalism and of the 'glimmers of light' that he found in 'the setting sun of this city.' Debord's attachment to certain urban sites within this critique of urban spectacle was often nostalgic. Yet it can also be understood as part of his concern with challenging the ways in which urban spaces were being reconstructed, and as opening up gaps or cracks for thinking about 'counter-sites' and points of political intervention.