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Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,639 ratings  ·  99 reviews
An ever-increasing proportion of our lives is spent in supermarkets, airports and hotels, on motorways or in front of TVs, computer and cash machines. This invasion of the world by what Marc Auge calls ‘non-space’ results in a profound alteration of awareness: something we perceive, but only in a partial and incoherent manner. Auge uses the concept of ‘supermodernity’ to d ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published May 17th 1995 by Verso (first published April 1992)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Mar 27, 2012 added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
Augé, like any number of other "theorists," is almost more of a belle-lettrist than a philosopher or social scientist. These theorists who seem to prioritize elegant writing over systematic knowledge are sometimes brilliant (Benjamin, Barthes) and sometimes blithering (Baudrillard, Certeau). I'm not quite sure which Augé is.

First of all, his definition of "non-places" strikes me as pretty suspect an deeply rooted in some of the more discreditable brands of mid-century structuralist thought. Howe
Miroslaw Aleksander
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book is interesting: non-places lack the significance to be really considered as spaces; they are spaces that are not, anthropologically, places. However, the book falls short. Auge concentrates on defining what an anthropological space is, although people with even a fairly basic knowledge of anthropology will know this. At the same time he often is vague on the concept of non-places, as a result of which I have so much doubts about the concept that I do not see it as a usefu ...more
Erdem Tasdelen
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: masr520
A marvellous discussion of supermodernity, but I'm a little skeptical of the notion of non-spaces. It seems to me that all places are potentially non-places, and all spaces that are framed as non-places in this book are potentially anthropological places too. My friend gave the most amazing example when we were discussing this: an airport is not a non-place for a person who works at the airport and goes there every day. Therefore this is a very loose definition, and to be fair Augé does acknowle ...more
John Carter McKnight
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
A little gem of a meditation on the distinction between "anthropological places" formed by social bonds and collective history, and "non-places" of atomized, individual travel and consumption. This is the non-silly vein of French theory, grounded, urbane, a delight to read, crammed with provocative concepts presented in a graceful style.

Quite wonderful.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
‘If a place can be defined as relational, historical, and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place’

Tourist non-places: ‘Travel… constructs a fictional landscape between gaze and landscape. And while we use the word ‘space’ to describe to frequentation of places which specifically defines the journey, we should still remember that there are spaces in which the individual feels himself to be a spectat
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was so fun!!!
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Marc Augé’s Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity is fascinating. His book is useful because it offers a theoretical framework for understanding why we think of some places the way we do, in particular there is a description of places that can put us in contact with a social structure, because there is a very close, consubstantial link between space and social organization.

At the same time, he noticed the proliferation, in the contemporary world, of spaces in which no las
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good quote:

-"Everything proceeds as if space had been trapped by time, as if there were no history other than the last 48 hours of news, as if each individual history were drawing its motive, its words and images, from the inexhaustible stock of an unending history in the present" (84)


Ethnology of solitude: "The community of human destinies is experienced in the anonymity of non-place and in solitude."
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dnf
I read this book as part of my research for a big urban landscape photography project. Which I did after lockdown restrictions were lifted in my city.
I was fascinated by the notion of what makes a place and what makes a non-place. However I did get a bit lost in the middle and skipped a few chapters. I felt a bit bad about that. But I’ll reread it all again and hopefully get a better understanding of what he meant.
May 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
bunch of babbling and non-sense
mar *:・゚✧
An assigned reading for one of my classes, it reflects on the consequences homogenization can have when applied to the design process of architecture.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is an interesting introduction to the non-places theme, and not only for anthropologists (mostly, though) but also for laymen, just like me, who are into different themes in literature. I decided to read it as I was studying the literary cartography and the changes of maps throughout the centuries. I especially enjoyed the prologue for the book, which at first confuses and surprises but if you go on reading the book, it all becomes clear. I must say though that it is quite difficult to grasp, ...more
Apr 21, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a wise friend of mine once said, this whole book could have been a tweet (or two). Désolé, Marc. Call me supermodern!
Abbas Jaffer
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Short, pithy and very perceptive work on the routes and contractual locations of contemporary society. What Augé does so well is draw our attention to a fundamental contradiction in many societies today, specifically when he writes: "at the very same moment when it becomes possible to think in terms of the unity of terrestrial space, and the big multinational networks grow strong, the clamour of particularists arise; clamour from those who want to stay at home in peace, clamour from those who wa ...more
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Even at 119 pages, the book seems too long for the idea. Most of what is original in the argument comes together in the last quarter, and while it features some interesting embroideries (the textual character of non-places, for example), even that isn't exactly mind-blowingly new stuff.

Of course, the problem might be that I'm just not that concerned with the intra-disciplinary crises of anthropology.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Notes from thesis:
In institutionalized sites, the identity of the passenger is lost. Identity becomes reduced to a role: the role of passing, and transitioning from one point to the intended destination (Augé, 1995). In such a non-place which empties individuality and “empties the consciousness” (Augé, 1995, p. 93), a passenger finds oneself present in the “urgency of the moment” (p. 104), and has “neither singular identity nor relations; only solitude, and similitude” (p. 103).
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-non_fiction
I don't often say this, but; if this were a little longer, it would be a five star book. A one page example would probably do it.

Otherwise, it's a very well put together essay that you can read in a day if you're up on your anthropology and French thinking. Terse, to the point, deep in the material, and sharp in its cuts.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
think he should craft aphoristic tweets instead of creating something as odd as a "non-place". the thesis of this book does not make sense, especially when expanded into novella length. irrelevant examples and digressions enter, leading me to imagine the subtle purpose is for pretentious meandering. ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
great book, gives you a different point of view to people and space. Although i disagreed with his opinion that only places connected with transportation are non-places, it was still a very interesting book to read.
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting, but the signal to noise ratio is rather too high. One of those authors who revels in the use of long words.
Ghadeer Alkhenaizi
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very difficult read, but the concepts are intriguing and thought provoking.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Quite honestly, I feel like the last chapter would have been enough.
Justin Goodman
Apr 24, 2021 rated it liked it

While there's something compelling about the concept of a non-place and their fluidity (in short: a space structured around passing through, which creates an atomizing psycho-social effect that can vanish back into 'place' based on context), Augé's politics extending from this ("It is not longer possible for a social analysis to dispense with individuals, nor for an analysis of individuals to ignore the spaces through which they are in transit") seem not just slipshod but premature. In partic
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Putting this at four stars specifically because I'm reading this entirely and only within the context of Charles Baudelaire's essay "The Painter of Modern Life": perhaps on its own, I would not have had such patience for it, or been quite so welcoming to the concept, or the way in which Auge seems to value his prose over the substance over the actual matter; as it is it reads like a longer, more elaborate, and more modern (though at present, 25 years out of date, to no fault of the author and al ...more
Kateryna Hora
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insightful! Some concepts are quite challenging to crack but overall the text suggests hypermodernity as something that gives birth to universal and objective 'non-places', which exist beyond history and anything organically social and personal. (airports, supermarets and hostels). Contrary to 'places' that are defined by concreteness and symbolism of a space construction, the anonymity of 'non-places' offers an individual the illusion of being a part of some grand global scheme. Even more, he s ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book has actually left me with mixed feelings. From a certain point of view, it introduces and briefly explains the author's concept of "non-places", something for which I believe the reader chooses this book - an interesting and fascinating topic of discussion. On the other hand it deeply falls short in outlining a logical and organic framework in which these are nourished and expanded. This happens while at the same time the author gives too much space (in my honest opinion, given the fac ...more
Hannah Rotwein
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book posits that we are in an age of supermodernity defined in part by a surplus of non-places: liminal locations such as waiting rooms and airports, train stops and supermarket queues. Augé tries to work out how an anthropologist might study this supermodernity, and what it means that we spend so much time in places that aren't really places at all. I found the work fascinating and difficult for its reliance on theory and the historical underpinnings of anthropology. Further intriguing was ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is actually 2 and a half for me I think; but there are no halfs here.
The ideas discussed are actually really interesting, but for such down to earth themes problems ideas at points I swear this goes out of its way in order to remain in this academic pedantic tone. Like most times if you are reading weirdly specific essay the author will give you references to the things they mention so that if you are interested you have a place to check; not here tho.
Still it’s worth reading this; I think.
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Auge's concept of non-spaces is interesting particularly when seen in relation to Foucault's concept of the heterotopia. Non-spaces are an intriguing idea, even though they might really be impossible to define or possess practicality. Auge's work is written in a style that is clear even in translation which makes it more accessible than say that of Derrida or Zizek. Perhaps this clarity and the concept make his work appear lightweight, but does philosophical or any other critical theory really n ...more
Oscar Despard
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating exposition of philosophical and anthropological ideas. Augé’s writing is crisp and literary, and his thoughts on encroaching anonymity in the modern, or indeed supermodern world, are well-worth reading. Augé is not unduly alarmist and recognises some benefits of this supermodernity, but he is fundamentally, deeply wary of its implications. I found it a sapid and informative work.
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Marc Augé is a French anthropologist. His career can be divided into three stages, reflecting shifts in both his geographical focus and theoretical development: early (African), middle (European) and late (Global). These successive stages do not involve a broadening of interest or focus as such, but rather the development of a theoretical apparatus able to meet the demands of the growing convictio ...more

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