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Free Content Misuse of The Monument: The art of parkour and the discursive limits of a disciplinary architecture

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This article explores the emancipatory potential of misuse. Through the practice of parkour, I investigate misuse as a form of empowerment within entanglements of power demarcating acceptable uses of city space. I critically examine my experience practising parkour on Monument Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana. The research questions include, first, how can we define the misuse of space? What can the misuse of Monument Circle teach us about how architecture communicates the interests of power? Can parkour be a practice of empowerment that challenges spatial expectations of use? Foucault’s discussion of disciplinary power theoretically frames the understanding of discourse, power and the use of misuse. Lefebvre’s theorizations on the production of space ground an understanding of the body in and around architecture. Offered here is an analysis of parkour’s misuse of architecture and its challenge of disciplinary power codified and maintained in the built environment.

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Keywords: Foucault; Indianapolis; architecture; body; misuse; parkour

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Pennsylvania State University

Publication date: 01 March 2014

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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