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Editors: Claval, Paul
Pagnini, Maria Paola
Scaini, Maurizio
Issue Date: 19-Jul-2006
Journal: Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part I: Cultural Geography: the Theoretical Approach
How can we speak about modernity? David Harvey(1970/1997) speaks of spatio-temporal
experiences and social practices that bring about a break with the past. How can one represent,
Harvey constantly wonders, the coexistence of the ephemeral and the fleeting with the eternal
and the immutable, or better, how can these elements actually coexist? To find an answer I
believe it is indispensable to re-examine the work Passagenwerk by Walter Benjamin. He
proposes adopting the principle of montage in the study of history. Therefore, when he says:
“the first stage in this journey will consist in adopting the principle of montage in history; in
other words, in erecting great constructions out of tiny building elements, cut out with clarity
and precision; in discovering, indeed, by the analysis of the single small moment the crystal
(essential nature) of the whole event; in breaking, therefore, with popular historical
naturalism; in understanding the construction of history as such; in the structure of the
comment (515) he is reflecting on how to increase the transparency of history itself by the
application of the Marxist method. His method consists in using quotations and comments on
life at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. His
intention is overtly declared: “This work must develop to the highest degree the art of quoting
without using quotation marks. The theory behind it is closely connected with that of
montage” or yet again “The method of this work is literary montage. I have nothing to say.
Only something to show. I will not remove anything precious and I will not appropriate any
ingenious expression. Rags and rubbish, therefore, but not in order to make an inventory of
them, but to do them justice in the only way possible: by using them” (514).
Type: Proceedings
ISBN: 88-8303-180-6
Rights: © Copyright 2003 Edizioni Università di Trieste - EUT
Appears in Collections:The cultural turn in geography

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