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Parkour and the critique of ideology: Turn-vaulting the fortresses of the city

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Abstract:

This article examines the athletic/performative discipline of 'parkour' in relation to the ideologies of neo-liberalism and advanced capitalism. The author makes a distinction between the 'spectacular' form of parkour, and parkour as a participatory and somatic practice, with roots in the methode naturelle training of Georges H├ębert. In its spectacular form, parkour may be read as a superficially subversive discipline that is under constant threat of absorption into the machine of capitalist production, evidenced by its representation in cinema and television, as well as its growing presence as a demonstration sport. As a participatory practice, however, parkour is a form of embodied ideological critique, as the body learns to respond to the inconsistencies and antagonisms of advanced capitalism that manifest in the built environment. This is argued to have a positive effect on the participant, building a greater sense of political agency. The author's methodology is based on theoretical critique within a Marxian and psychoanalytic framework, as well as self-reflection on his own training in parkour.

Keywords: ARCHITECTURE; CRITIQUE; EMBODIMENT; PARKOUR; POLITICAL AGENCY; SPACE; THE CITY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jdsp.2.2.143_1

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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