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Wall terrains: Architecture, body culture and parkour


Nilsson, E.



Urban Walls: Political and Cultural Meanings of Vertical Structures and Surfaces

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Walls are concrete objects, but the way this concreteness is played out in a given situation is not only an effect related to bodily incorporated skills but also relative to the shared understandings of a body culture determining whether a wall acts like a fence, something to be crossed, or as part of a configuration of a different kind. Building on an understanding of walls and bodies as specific figurations this chapter uses the traceur and the development of parkour as its main example and develops a multiple and relational perspective on walls and bodies by describing how they are part in articulating and stabilizing different terrains. What is striking about parkour is that the architecture traceurs are drawn to promote a strong territorialization, but the trajectory of the traceur’s movement often plots a neglecting of this territorialization. Traceurs strive on the territorialization of other terrains and the topography created by them. In doing so, the traceurs not only become tracers of their own terrain formation, they also inform us that however strong the history of urban walls is as objects segregating and sustaining different territorial claims, we can never take the category “wall” for granted.


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