the new flâneur

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This quote from Awad Ibraham’s piece really struck me, as I’ve been questioning what does it mean to be a flâneur for someone who has been defined as a refugee, an immigrant, an emigrant, an asylum seeker. I had been thinking of it in the sense of movement through urban spaces, but I think this quote is poignant as it goes even further, referencing displacement and the greater movement from one country to another. Here, he is studying and speaking of people who have moved to “the North” (specifically Canada) but again, this very much applies to those who have fled their respective countries to seek new homes or refuge in Europe. (Especially relevant to one of my own “case studies”, the city of Berlin.) I am especially interested in the idea of this “new flâneur” as one who is an ethnographer and translator of their surroundings. One could say this about the “old flâneur”, I suppose, but the translation of the “new flâneur is worlds apart.

“I am using flâneur in it’s nomadic sense, where nomads, especially desert nomads, do not walk aimlessly as the original meaning suggests. They have a destiny and have a macro- and micro- knowledge and understanding of what surrounds them geographically, culturally, and linguistically. The new flâneur, however, are still learning, they are ethnographers and translators of that which surrounds them. One might refer to them as the post-modern nomads who can easily travel corporeally and intellectually from South to North and vice versa thanks to the digital technology and accessibility of transportation. For this paper, I am interested in the physical displacement, the actual corporeal move. As we shall see, the new flâneurs I am talking about here are not the most privileged, they moved to the North, namely Canada, because of war and civil unrest. Privileged or not, their identities, I conclude, are best understood within what Stuart Hall calls New identity.

citation: Ibrahim, Awad. “The New Flâneur: Subaltern cultural studies, African youth in Canada and the semiology of in-betweenness” Cultural Studies, vol. 22, no. 2, 2008, pp. 234–253., doi:10.1080/09502380701789141.



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