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Traceur as Bricoleur. Poaching public space through bricolent use of architecture and the body


This paper emerged from many months of regular participation in the parkour community in Indianapolis, Indiana. First, this study looks at the art of parkour as a bricolent engagement with architecture. Acts of bricolage, a sort of artistic making-do with objects (including one’s body) in the environment, play with(in) the dominant order to “manipulate the mechanisms of discipline and conform to them only in order to evade them” (de Certeau, 1984:  xiv). Second, this study investigates architecture’s participation in the production and maintenance of what de Certeau calls, “operational logic” (p. xi). That is, how architecture acts as a communicative mode of space; one, which conveys rationalized or acceptable ways of being in space. This critical ethnography, then, takes to task the investigation of how traceurs, the practitioners of parkour, uncover emancipatory potential in city space through bricolent use of both architecture and the body.

Pages:33 to 44
Section: Overview
How to Cite
Lamb, M. (2017) “Traceur as Bricoleur. Poaching public space through bricolent use of architecture and the body”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(1), pp. 33-44. doi:

Author Biography

The Pennsylvania State University
United States United States
Matthew D. Lamb is a Lecturer at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Lamb conducts research at the intersections of urban communication, architectural theory and criticism, performance studies, cultural studies and philosophies centering on the production of space. Primarily, his research focuses on architecture’s place in communication processes, which produce understandings of how to use, efforts to control, and frame interpretations of the moving body in city space. Dr. Lamb’s work has been featured in Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Communication and Sport, and others. He is also an active participant with the Urban Communication Foundation


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