The Left Bank

in The Heroic City

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226870236
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226870175 | DOI:
The Left Bank

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The public spaces of Paris were filled with increasingly influential youth groups, sometimes parading, sometimes rampaging through the city. The postwar generation displayed enormous versatility in acts of defiance, or détournement. Their spatial territory was the Left Bank, which was divided into the discrete, separate districts of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. Student strikes and traditional post-exam processions turned into melees, “rites of inversion” in which the ridiculous, the unseemly, and wildness negated the trap of normal existence—and became highly politicized. They were the primal scene of liberated and politically enfranchised French women. They were the terrain of the newly arrived immigrants who signified the painful and violent shift from the French imperium to decolonization. All these enfants du paradis—or “wild publics” in postmodern vocabulary—were freewheeling performers in the show who broke free of the public discourses controlled by professionals, experts, and state elites and created fertile, contested spaces for new, counterdiscursive practices and uses of the city.

Keywords: Paris; youth; Left Bank; strikes; decolonization; Saint-Germain-des-Prés; Latin Quarter; immigrants

Chapter.  18729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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