The Beach (a Fantasy)

in Walter Benjamin's Grave

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780226790039
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226790008 | DOI:
The Beach (a Fantasy)

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  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


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This chapter discusses the social and economic tensions surrounding beaches after World War II. Beaches became increasingly popular in the affluent West, and the sea underwent a phantasmatic recovery by virtue of a new structure of feeling. In these beaches, the topless Swedes and Germans basked by the water's edge, leaving the Spaniards on the Costa del Sol aghast. The Greek peasants in the Peloponnesus sold off their coastal plots to the Germans because the peasants never built on the exposed seaside of the slopes on account of pirates. The author also describes the coastal beaches and harbor waterfront of Sydney where, with few exceptions, the working class lived or went to surf on Sundays. Even here, the suburbs, like the previously working-class waterside area of Balmain, are now among the wealthiest in Australia. Famous city beaches such as Bondi and Coogee, which were lower-middle-class and working-class areas, are now battlegrounds for people with money fighting for their place in the sun.

Keywords: coastal beaches; Costa del Sol; Peloponnesus; Balmain; Sydney

Chapter.  9812 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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