Le Parkour: Urban Street Culture and the Commoditization of Male Youth Expression

Authors

  • Scott Stapleton,

    1.  Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
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    •  Note: This manuscript is based on the exemplary original research of Georgetown University student, Scott Stapleton, for a 2005 honours thesis written under the direction of Susan Terrio that won the coveted Jesse A. Mann Medal in the Culture and Politics Program in the School of Foreign Service. Scott Stapleton was killed in a tragic accident in Turkey just weeks before he was to begin graduate work in anthropology at the London School of Economics. All of us who knew Scott as professors or friends deeply mourn the loss of a brilliant and humane young man.

  • Susan Terrio

    1.  Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
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Abstract

This article considers the global distribution and commoditization of an extreme sport, Le Parkour, which was popularized by working class Parisian teenagers from the marginalized suburban projects. It examines the transformation of a localized phenomenon associated with the subversive use of urban space into a globalized and dynamic cultural form practiced on the street, in films and theatrical productions and in on-line communities. The authors study the discourses surrounding le parkour -- the origin stories, myths, movements, and philosophies of practice that attract followers. Analysis of Le Parkour offers a unique vantage point from which to understand transnational cultural flows, the construction of hybridized identities and the commoditization of youth expression.

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