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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

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

Author(s) from Durham


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.


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Department of Geography