Paris Plage: "The city is ours"

De La Pradelle, M., & Lallement, E.

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De La Pradelle, M., & Lallement, E. (2004). Paris Plage: “The city is ours”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 595(1), 134–145.

anthropological description , Paris , political event , public space , social relationships , urban performance

In 2003, for the second year running, the Paris municipality entrusted a young theater designer with the transformation of one stretch of the banks of the Seine River—normally congested with heavy traffic—into an open space evocative of the seaside. Paris in August is therefore Paris by the seaside. The objective of our study is to examine the entire operation, from the moment the political decision was taken by the municipality to the many and varied activities of all those who participated. Through this study, we attempt to highlight the different forms of material and symbolic (re)creation of Paris being undertaken today. We show that in a situation such as this, a reflection on the fieldwork undertaken and the production of ethnographic knowledge is in fact the key factor in the analysis.

Main finding
The temporary installation provided the physical and social space for people watching, photographing, and socializing. The theatrical nature was such that people were not merely visitors but participants in the installation. The event served as an example of how any space in the city could conceivably be made more public and pedestrian friendly.

Description of method used in the article
The authors conducted observations and interviews through the installation of Paris Plage, a temporary beach installation along the Seine River in the summer of 2003.

Of practical use

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