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Parkour is a spectacular and highly mediatized new way of movement that challenges conceptions of acceptable or appropriate behaviour in urban public space. This article will examine the potential of parkour to “loosen” urban spatial texture by applying recent thinking on loose and tight space by Karen A. Franck and Quentin Stevens to data gathered through in‐depth interviews with parkour practitioners (traceurs) in two Finnish cities. When practising in urban public spaces, the traceurs we interviewed often caused confusion among other people. We explore how they negotiate their right to public space in the face of these reactions, either by evasion or with a combination of legal and moral arguments. We argue that parkour is not only a playful and confrontational practice with a potentially subversive character, but that the process of loosening space constitutes a complex dialectic, which may also involve a certain degree of tightening in the public space for other unexpected or unintended activities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, PO Box 3, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland 2: Department of Teacher Education, PO Box 9, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2012-03-01

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