Marc Augé on Non-Place

The section “From Places to Non-Places” in Marc Augé’s book Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity (1995) covers so much ground and utilizes such varied forms of discourse that it lends itself well to disparate schools of thought including anthropology, modern languages, psychoanalysis, film theory, literary criticism, cultural studies, architecture and of course, visual studies. Augé’s work is grounded in himself comes from a structural anthropology background that he shares with based on the works of Claude Levi-Strauss, Stuart Hall, Marcel Mauss and Émile Durkheim; however, his references to Western literature, and literary criticism and philosophy depict a wide breadth of influences including Charles Baudelaire, Karl Marx and Henri Lefebvre. Use of traditional Continental philosophy including Marxist critique through the work of Mauss, is crucial in developing understanding Augé's cosmology of place and non-place. In an earlier chapter of the same book Augé argues that the formation of cosmologies of meaning is essential to the ethnologist no matter the object of study; because of this, Augé can beis useful when researching the contemporary moment, a moment which is followed by an immanent history that refuses cosmological totalities through its dispersed and fragmented presentation (25).

Augé’s understanding of anthropology has drawn nearer to ethnographic study. He spent years working in remote communities while the rest of the world underwent the great cultural schisms of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. (Conley. While working with Alladian-speaking tribes speakers in the Ivory Coast during the great European cultural schisms of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. in contrast to other ethnographers’ attempts at creating enclosed cosmologies of the observed Other. an over-arching theory which was a synthesis of Althusser and Marx in that it attempted to indicate the disconnected but mutually influential nature of religion and economy on a group’s ontological understanding (Conley. understood as a functionalist vision of culture (Conley. defines Augé’s conception of non-place as “a mix of pleasure and uneasiness of self- . Having now turned his attention to contemporary French and European society. which could then become commodified narratives of the exotic.Augé did much of his fieldwork in the southern regions régions of the Ivory Coast. Augé developed abstract principles which he believed could be applicable to more general concerns. in his introduction to Augé’s book In the Metro. 2002). xiii). ready for Western consumption. xiii) Tom Conley. Ideo-logic was an attempt at developing a perforated philosophy of being. Among these is was the concept of ideo-logic. Augé believed his theory of ideo-logic would allow for a place from which the individual could critique the alienating effects that mark consciousness in general through time as a culture’s ontology changes due to outside influence.

” Contemporary places continue to exist and be constructed meaningfully. These non-places are not reliant on. however. Augé uses the term supermodernity to define. or necessarily integrated with places. where one can enter and leave without having left a single trace (Augé. an area of cultural practice that is still reliant on modernist ideas. Augé takes the term and successfully applies it in examination of a condition of subjectivity as implicated by non-place . society has not gotten free of modernity. For him. instead modernity and postmodernity coexist in the palimpsest of supermodernity coexist. nor do non-places exist entirely separately from other places.” In physical terms. Rather. for Augé. palimpsestic reality. 38) however. creating a pastiche assemblage. is a construction still reliant on the layers of ritual and industry that defined modernity—what he calls “spires and chimneys. the urban theorist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre first coined the term in 1970 to denote ”an elsewhere. Non-place was not entirely original to Augé.suspension. non-places are characterized as places of transit. negatively. 1970. Contemporary place. This palimpsest is what allows for new distinctions and discourse . he says. as suggested by the use of the terms postmodernity or after-modernity. or non-places. like a vestigial organ. 64). of communication and of commerce. even while places of a non-traditional anthropological significance. the non-place that has no place and seeks a place of its own” (Lefebvre. have come into existence. both of these manifestations (place being essentially modern and non-place non-modern) exist in a supermodern .

the exotic. At the same time the palimpsest redefines the constitutional identity of individuals within contemporary society. Augé points out that through the telescoping of time and the expansion of space.reagrdingregarding the traditional object of anthropological study. both of which are effects of excess. Joel Kuennen . the contemporary moment has become the exotic moment of possibility facing an immanent historicity.