Towards a Post-Historical Landscape Governmentality? Refractory Im/Mobilities and Multi-Temporality at Paris’ Jardins d’Eole

  • Jeremy  Foster Cornell University
Keywords: urban commons, governmentality, nature, neo-liberalization, time-consciousness, immigration


Today, overlapping mobilities and displacements are creating new kinds of urban spaces, as well as new kinds of urban subjectivity. The circulation of people, ideas, capital and imagery undermines the cityscape’s ability to mediate feelings of collective citizenship, and notions of ‘improvement’ that inform the making and maintenance of urban landscapes. This erosion is significant in a city like Paris, where the cityscape has historically been used to cultivate feelings of republican citizenship. Despite the converging ‘post-historical’ effects of neo-liberalism and immigration, Paris’ government strives to provide an urban landscape that ensures ‘equal access for all and appropriation by none’, while still meeting sustainability goals. At Jardins D’Eole, programming, design and construction gave agency to an unprecedented array of stakeholders while avoiding identity politics. Although the park has promoted the co-existence of multiple publics and new forms of environmental citizenship, these achievements have been challenged by translocal forces. A Foucauldian lens of ‘governmentality’ suggests these tensions, and their resolution, might originate in how urbanites’ understandings of the ‘city-as-transformed-nature’ involves a détente between the temporal understandings produced by historical narratives and those produced by daily life. Rather than a failure of governmentality, Jardins d’Eole offers new ways of conceptualizing linkages between the state, urban landscape, and futurity.


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