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« Ruins and the city. Interpreting marginal spaces through practices of ruin tourism »

Abstract : This paper investigates the shifts in representations and practices of urban marginal areas through the analysis of ruin tourism in Berlin (Germany) and Detroit (USA). Although widely considered as unproductive spaces of waste (Edensor 2005), modern ruins represent a fertile ground for practices of urban exploration (Garrett 2012) and ruin tourism, thus challenging the idea of their worthlessness within urban space. This paper presents the first outputs of an ongoing PhD research concerned with ruin tourism as a geographical object. Fitting into actual research on urban tourism and on modern ruins, we advocate that ruin tourism questions the place of marginal areas in urban imaginaries, representations and practices, and therefore allows for a better understanding of the contemporary production of urban space. Three purposes are assigned to this paper: providing understanding of the inversion of the ‘geographical stigma’ (Goffman 1963) attached to urban wastelands, examining the role ruin tourism plays in the frame of new urban tourism and analyzing spatial issues raised by ruin tourism at the neighborhood’s and metropolitan scale. The methodological framework is based on qualitative methods implemented during fieldworks in Berlin and Detroit. They include participant observation, semi-directive interviews with various types of actors and discourse analysis of online material. The results show that recent positive representations of modern ruins go together with a commodification and normative re-appropriation of marginal spaces. It also reveals contested interpretations of urban space, providing further insights into (re)production of socio-spatial inequalities within Western metropolises.
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Contributor : Aude Le Gallou <>
Submitted on : Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 6:42:58 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:08:49 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02943506, version 1



Aude Le Gallou. « Ruins and the city. Interpreting marginal spaces through practices of ruin tourism ». AAG Annual Meeting, Association of American Geographers, Apr 2018, La Nouvelle-Orléans, United States. ⟨halshs-02943506⟩



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