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The dilemmas of radical nostalgia in British pyschogeography'

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alastair Bonnett



This article argues that British psychogeography is an arena of conflict between two important and unresolved strands within radicalism: the use of the past to critique industrial modernity and the suppression of nostalgia. The article begins by outlining the emergence of nostalgia as a site of dilemma and creativity within political radicalism. It is shown that as nostalgia became marginalized within mainstream radicalism it became available as a provocative resource for `counter-cultural' interventions. The article then turns to how the dilemma of nostalgia is negotiated within two forms of contemporary British psychogeography, the travel narratives of Iain Sinclair and the activities of revolutionary psychogeographical groups. Within Sinclair's travel books the modern landscape becomes a site of creative purgatory, a necessary violence that simultaneously anchors the writer in modernism while establishing marginal histories and spaces as expressions of cultural and social loss. In revolutionary psychogeography nostalgia is also refused and deployed. However, this process is enacted in a different way and to different ends. The development of `magico-Marxism' encapsulates the novelty but also the folk-historical inclinations of this project.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bonnett A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theory, Culture and Society

Year: 2009

Volume: 26

Issue: 1

Pages: 45-70

ISSN (print): 0263-2764

ISSN (electronic): 1460-3616

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0263276408099015


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