Mauro Pala


Benjamin explores Paris, the cultural capital of the nineteenth century, finding similarities between the French capital and the Berlin of his childhood. Both cities are archives for the flâneur, in which the contemplative beholder identifies the significant threads of fragmented, atomized modern existence within the urban topography. Benjamin stresses the importance of the marginal and neglected features of the metropolis for developing a mythopoetic phenomenology of commodification, putting an emphasis on negative factors which spread reification and alienation among urban dwellers. For Gramsci, urbanism represents a pole in the worldwide dualism between city and countryside – città versus campagna – and all stages of Western civilization since antiquity have borne witness to the antagonism between these physical and experiential spaces, which, with the outbreak of bourgeois revolutions, have also hosted the active forces of economic exploitation and, at the same time, the forms of resistance against growing capitalism. This contribution aims at throwing light on the modalities through which both thinkers consider the city enmeshed in the actual processes of producing space, through a journey into the concrete and the abstract, the local and the global, and by conceiving heterogeneous theories which nevertheless claim their descent from Marxism.

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