Category: "Spaces"


11:18:17 pmCategories: Fieldwork, Spaces, Academic life and family, Paris

The multilingual playground

(Early Sunday morning. Where are my playmates?)

It’s not the first time I write about how I enjoy hanging out in Parisian playgrounds (see posts from 2005 and 2007). They’re small to middle sized and every neighbourhood seem to have one. So, if you’re looking for a green and shady place to relax for a while and observe the local way of life, a playground can be recommended. Earlier, I haven’t paid much attention to the standard of the equipment, but this time I quickly noticed that all the parks in this part of the town have got new, exciting and very varied games for the different age sets. Perhaps this is part of an renovation of the public spaces in the Northeastern and poorer districts of Paris?

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01:29:34 pmCategories: Spaces, Anthropological notes, Writing

The socio-political geography of East Paris: Parisian slam poetry – a space of resistance?

The most recent paper I failed to give (see previous post) was looking at the slam poetry phenomenon from the perspective of where it is situated, – socio-politically as well as geographically. I wanted to explore the connection between the slam scene’s geographical position in the North and East (and to some extent the 13th Arrondissement in the South) and the socio-political characteristics of these parts of the city. Here’s the abstract for the presentation:

Parisian slam poetry – a space of resistance?
Cicilie Fagerlid, PhD fellow at Cultural Complexity in the New Norway (strategic research programme at the University of Oslo)

In this paper, I will explore the relationship between the Parisian slam (performance) poetry scene and the socio-political landscape of North and East Paris, where the scene is situated. This part of the city is historically popular and left-wing with an important influence of bohemians and artists, and an equally long history of regional and international immigration.

I will argue that what is created during an evening of poetry performances, is to some extent a space of biopolitical resistance. Similar forms of resistance to standardisations of everyday life and/or governmental politics overflow the urban space of the northern and eastern Parisian neighbourhoods – in terms of streetart, political and artistic posters and stickers, low-cost and “alternative” film and music festivals, readings and talks in bookshops and cultural centers, a plethora of demonstrations filling the streets with colours and noise and a general, unruly everyday streetlife. I will situate the slam poetry within this landscape and discuss to what extent Antonio Negri’s notion of a (bio)space “in-between” power relations can be a helpful analytical perspective:

“Where is exodus at home? Where is the space for those who want to go into exodus from power and its domination?” For me, exodus sometimes requires force. And this is, paradoxically, an exodus that does not seek an “outside” of power, but which affirms the refusal of power, freedom in the face of power, in the hollow of its meshes (Negri, Petcou, Petrescu and Querrien 2008).

Negri,Toni, Constantin Petcou, Doina Petrescu and Anne Querrien 2008: “What makes a biopolitical space? A discussion with Toni Negri” in Eurozine at (accessed 02.05.2008)

I’ve decided to continue working on the problematics of this paper during the summer, making it into the two first chapters of my thesis (see the end of this post for a preliminary outline). In the first chapter, I will describe and analyse some of the areas where the slam soirées take place (how I’m looking forward to wander the streets of Belleville and Ménilmontant in my imagination again!). In Chapter 2, I will ask how we can understand the particular space created during a slam – thus grasping the micro-dynamics of a soirée – and secondly, making a connection to chapter 1, I will look at what might be the relations between the slam phenomenon and the particular environment of the city where it is situated.

For some reason, the summer Oslo mood certainly inspires a delve back into my memory of Parisians streets and cafés…


02:01:57 pmCategories: Spaces, Anthropological notes, Post-fieldwork

Steps to an analysis: from impressions to data

After I mapped out an outline two and a half months ago, my project has appeared amazingly ordered and under control. Perhaps it’s no wonder then, that I’ve postponed delving back into my fieldnotes for as long as I could, keeping myself busy with ordered and controllable intellectual activities like reading books for literature seminars and writing abstracts for upcoming workshops and conferences as well as even an article.

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03:06:10 amCategories: Spaces, Politics, Peculiarities

Vivre ensemble after school time

The playground 10 days ago, before spring came for real

Le square français was the second post I wrote on this blog, but as I've spent a sunny spring afternoon on one again, I just have to share my enthusiasm once more.

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Art in the suburbs

Slameur and musicians in a forum culturel in the suburb

Following the Parisian slam scene immediately led me to the suburbs. During my 9 months long first stay here, I crossed la pheripherique (ring road) only five times (except to go to the airport). Three times in the summer I attended open microphone slam events; two in Saint Denis (by Stade de France which one can se on the way to the airport) and one in Fontenay-sous-Bois (to the south east). Saint Denis is well connected to the metro system, Fontenay-sous-Bois is not, and it was a true galère to get there, according to one I travelled with. (One of our adventures dans la galère, I recounted here in Nouvelle France).

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10:36:58 amCategories: Fieldwork, Spaces

Back in the field

Yesterday brought me no less than two très belles coïncidences. First – as I told yesterday – the issue of Le Monde I got on the Air France flight had assigned a whole page to my research object, the very reason for which I was coming down to France again this week; the French slam scene. (Today it’s Libération’s turn). The second coincidence was almost as belle; as I strolled around in my beloved Belleville/Ménilmontant neighbourhood I spotted a poster in a window announcing that the historian Pascal Blanchard, coeditor of La fracture coloniale, was having at talk at the local library 2 hours later. La fracture coloniale was in fact the very book I decided at the last moment not to bring with me here, as I would have little time for reading, - but which I’ll have to read as soon as I get back, since I’m writing an essay on the current struggle over history going on here.

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02:59:46 pmCategories: Spaces, Music, literature, arts...

Back in Belleville! (and le monde writes about the slam scene)

I’m back in Paris for 9 days, and this time I’ve settled right in the heart of Belleville, in the Tunisian Jewish neighbourhood (where they’re just about to celebrate Yom Kippur, I think…). A few blocks from the hotel, I’ve found a café with wifi – a café where they also arrange slam sessions, which of course fits perfectly with my intention to get some intensive fieldworking done while I’m here. So, now I sit blogging right at my favourite boulevard :) (Café Cheri(e) is undoubtedly quite trendy now, and it has in fact it's own blog...).

And talking about intensive fieldworking; while I’m here I can keep myself occupied every night with going to various slam sessions, and these 9 days of intensive focus on slamming started really well as I opened Le Monde (1-2/10/06) on the plane and found that they had dedicated a whole page to the French slam scene!

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02:40:07 amCategories: Fieldwork, Places, Spaces

Boulevard phenomenology

Place de Ménilmontant in the autumn (with bikes and cyclists...)

It’s been ages since I’ve been walking down the boulevard, but today I was doing it again. My bike has been stolen! And it was stolen from one of my favourite places, Place de Ménilmontant. Well, such things happen, and anyway it was a too small, but it feels strange that it should happen less than 48 hours before my departure. It’s the third (attempted) crime that happens to me after I came here. First I was robbed for my deposit (1300€!) for a flat that was way too expensive in the first place, then a kid tried to nick my camera during an anti-CPE demonstration (we both looked the same surprised – me because why would someone nick a fellow demonstrator’s camera, him because the camera was attached with a string around my neck so he didn’t get it…) and now my funny little green bike…

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