Urban design and civic spaces: nature at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris
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Strohmayer, U (2006) 'Urban design and civic spaces: nature at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris'. Cultural Geographies, 13 :557-576.
Transcending the dualism between 'nature' and 'culture' has been one of the central aims of geographical knowledge during the last decade or so. The present paper adds to this growing body of literature by focusing on the construction of a key space of the French Second Empire (1852-1870), the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the newly created 19th arrondissement in Paris. The paper that the nexus between Culture and nature - what has been described most fittingly as asocial natures in the literature - can profitably be approached through the lenses afforded by a reformulated concept of labour. Taking cues from Don Mitchell's conceptual notion of 'dead labour', the paper explores the impact of both technology and design on an emerging urban nature that was to be centrally implicated in the naturalization of many values within an emerging bourgeois, Western world with its emphasis on the commodification of increasing parts of everyday life. Ostensibly non-commodified urban park landscapes were implicated in this process precisely because they embodied a notion of 'labour' that was - and continues to be - both necessary and homogeneous and thus akin to the sense of labour developing in the world of commerce at the same time.