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The city and topologies of memory

Crang, M.; Travlou, P.S.


P.S. Travlou


The relationship of space and time has become a vexed issue in accounts in the postmodern metropolis. Rich and enlivening accounts use spatial categories to describe the interrelationships of elements of the city moving from historicism to geography, to gloss Jameson's development of cognitive mapping. Postmodern geographies utilising the ideas of cognitive mapping show marked similarities with the accounts of time and space describing classical and medieval arts of memory and the Romantic writings of Flaubert on Athens. However, spatialised accounts of the city often seem to replicate problematic divisions of space and time that also underlay historicist accounts and merely invert the latter's priorities. The work of Bergson offers key insights into how this division occurred and a sense of temporality that may be lost in spatial metaphors. This is a sense of difference and alterity that we trace in the work of Proust and argue can be brought to inform the urban theatre of memories through a careful reworking of ideas suggested by de Certeau and Derrida. In this paper we take the case of Athens, bringing together East and West, ancient and modern, original and copy, as a grounding to discuss these issues.We suggest a sense of time-space as both fragmented and dynamic; a sense of the historical sites as creating instability and displacement in collective memory.


Crang, M., & Travlou, P. (2001). The city and topologies of memory. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19(2), 161-177.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2001
Deposit Date Apr 7, 2008
Journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Print ISSN 0263-7758
Electronic ISSN 1472-3433
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 2
Pages 161-177
Keywords Space, Time, Bergson, Proust, de Certeau, Derrida, Athens.
Publisher URL