Driving places - Marc Auge, non-places, and the geographies of England's M1 motorway

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Volume21
Issue number4-5
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 2004
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Abstract

In this article I provide a critical account of the ‘placing’ of England’s M1 motorway. I start by critiquing Marc Augé’s anthropological writings on ‘non-places’ which have provided a common point of reference for academics discussing spaces of travel, consumption and exchange in the contemporary world. I argue that Augé’s ethnology of supermodernity results in a rather partial account of these sites, that he overstates the novelty of contemporary experiences of these spaces, and that he fails to acknowledge the heterogeneity and materiality of the social networks bound up with the production of non-places/places. I suggest that, rather than focusing on the presences and absences associated with the polarities of place and non-place, academics should examine the multiple, partial, dynamic and relational ‘placings’ which arise through the diverse performances and movements associated with travel, consumption and exchange. I then trace the topologies of England’s M1 motorway, examining some of the different ways in which the motorway has been assembled, performed and placed over the past 45 years.