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Imagining the pavement: A search through everyday texts for the symbolism of an everyday artefact

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An interconnected system of paved surfaces is an omnipresent feature of the urban environment. The author contends that, because of its ubiquity, this ‘pavement’ impinges on the thoughts of ordinary urban dwellers in ways they might not consciously recognize. Evidence of feelings that may otherwise remain unexpressed has been sought from deliberate and incidental references to the pavement in the works of journalists, poets, memoirists and artists. Such works reveal that the pavement is a repository for private urban imaginings that may coalesce into shared public imaginaries. As a consequence the pavement can assume diverse symbolic roles and even fulfil the function of a monument onto which people project their own meanings.
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Keywords: cities; monuments; pavement; public space; roadways; sidewalks; urban culture; urban space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Western Sydney University

Publication date: 01 June 2016

More about this publication?
  • 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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