Paris Stations in Experiences of Urbanity (1837-1914)

Issue: Station and Urbanity


Using approaches from historical anthropology and cultural studies, the aim of this article is to study the ways in which Paris stations, new and hybrid buildings from the first third of the nineteenth century, disturbed common experiences of the city and renewed the possibilities of urban experience in at least three aspects: that of representations of the city and its functioning; that of normative practices of the city; and that of its perception and its everyday apprehension. This case study underlines the fact that space is a complex historical process, which cannot be reduced to its initial theoretical design (the vision of engineers), nor to its main prescribed uses (the vision of operators), but may rather be understood as a lively and fragile coproduction that is at once conscious and unconscious, pragmatic and fantasized.
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