Situationism / Situationist City

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The term “situationism” is derived from the ideas and practices of the Situationist International (SI, 1957–72), a revolutionary avant-garde group based mainly in Europe that sought the transformation of everyday life and space. The significance of the situationists has become the subject of increased attention recently, including in relation to geography and understandings of space and place, and in terms of the spaces of revolutionary and anti-capitalist struggle. The SI's background lay in the earlier avant-garde movements of Dada and surrealism, and in Marxist theory and politics. Geographical and specifically urban concerns were central to its program, in relation to which this article highlights three themes: first, its concern with the production and contestation of space within the society of the spectacle; second, its practices for engaging with the psychogeographies of cities and constructing situations; and third, its ambitions to transform sociospatial relations and produce a revolutionary urbanism, apparent in artistic and political projects as well as practical struggles. The situationists resisted the term “situationism,” believing it was employed by others to freeze their fluid activities into an ideology. What was important, they asserted, was changing life here and now. Their radical demands continue to inspire, challenge, scandalize, and inform both intellectual studies and political activism.

[Chapter length: 6500 words]
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
EditorsAudrey Kobayashi
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9780081022955
ISBN (Electronic)9780081022962
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Situationists
  • Avant-garde
  • Radical geography
  • Utopia
  • Urbanism
  • Art

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