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Atmospheres of stillness in Bristol's Bearpit

Buser, Michael

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Abstract

This paper studies atmospheres of stillness in a contested urban public space known as the ‘Bearpit’. The purpose is to provide a nuanced account of stillness and its relationship to atmosphere. Drawing on an ethnographic examination of the Bearpit, the paper finds that the positive and beneficial aspects of stillness can be found in unexpected and unconventional places. However, there is no single, unifying experience of stillness, but rather a plurality of ‘stillings’. The paper highlights three forms of stillness distilled from study of the site – calmness, control and withdrawnness – and demonstrates how these modalities emerge from and contribute to the construction of atmospheres in the Bearpit. Moreover, these atmospheres have direct political consequences for those who take part in city life. The paper’s contribution is found in the advancement of non-anthropocentric understandings of atmosphere and the development of stillness as a way of understanding city life.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 8, 2017
Journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Print ISSN 0263-7758
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 1
Pages 126-145
APA6 Citation Buser, M. (2017). Atmospheres of stillness in Bristol's Bearpit. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35(1), 126-145. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775816658480
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775816658480
Keywords atmosphere, ambiance, stillness, public space, non-representational theory, Stokes Croft, Bearpit
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0263775816658480

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