An Incomplete Taxonomy of Urban Archetypes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Archetypes are symbols used in literature to represent universally-recognisable figures, actions or settings. Their characterisation is secondary to an idea or narrative in which their role is expositional. At the beginning of the 20th Century Walter Benjamin distilled from the 19th Century poetry of Charles Baudelaire a number of new archetypes or ‘allegories’, most famously the figure of the Flâneur, as metaphors of modern urban life. Those allegories are fluid, they elide into one another. In Benjamin’s essays the Flâneur reluctantly becomes Detective, both a disguise for apparent idleness and justification for detached observation, whilst his poetry is gathered from the street just as the Ragpicker gathers up what others discard. The Ragpicker is an unwelcome reminder to the bohème of their precarious place in the modern city. Whilst Baudelaire’s terminology is arcane, I propose that these modern allegories still have contemporary resonances in the neo-liberal city.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2016
EventO.F.F. - Oslo Flaneur Festival 2016 - Kulturhuset, Youngstorget 3, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 23 Jun 201625 Jun 2016


ConferenceO.F.F. - Oslo Flaneur Festival 2016
Abbreviated titleOSLOFF
Internet address


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