I have always been one who considered myself a “traveler” and one who seeks “adventure.” I have traveled around Europe alone as well as with others in addition to having lived in Prague for several years. I prided myself on being “cultured” and having knowledge of the world far beyond the edges of where I was born.
I have always been one to wander aimlessly through new cities (and countries) – in Spring of 2016 I took a course called The City of the Future that completely changed how I look at, think about, and move through Urban Spaces. This course also finally gave me the words to describe things I’ve done or thought about for as long as I can remember but never had the words to articulate: flâneur, psychogeography, heterotopias, etc.
This past Summer, I had the fortune to spend the Summer A term on a study abroad program in Berlin. I have always known that I was privileged, as the holder of an American passport; I’ve always had the knowledge that a vast number of people cannot just decided to move to another country for “fun” and make it happen nor can they even travel so easily. After working with a portion of the refugee community in Berlin, the knowledge of my American passport privileges really sunk in and I began to think differently about my travels and experiences. I’ve realized that traveling to other countries really isn’t all that “adventurous” when all the doors in the world are open to you. My knowledge of the world is the limited knowledge of privilege.
I love to travel. I will still travel – but I have changed the way in which I frame these experiences and memories. I will still wander (hence, flâneuse) but my observations are turned towards HOW I move through spaces and borders and how my movement contrasts with others. (And how the flâneuse might experience things differently from a flâneur.) How does (and has) my privilege change how I see the world and influenced my access to it? How does being a woman, particularly when I’m alone, influence or hinder my access?
This site, at first created to be a frivolous, “artsy” and perhaps somewhat self-congratulatory journal of urban spaces and travel experiences, will be a new look at these same experiences. Using principles from The City of the Future (the politics and power of space, heterotopias, privilege, globalization) and from other coursework (in classes such as Immigration, Displacement, and Return as well as my study abroad program), this site will be a journal of the Flâneuse through a critical lens.