Berlin bodies : anatomizing the streets of the city

Barber, Stephen (2017) Berlin bodies : anatomizing the streets of the city. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 280p. ISBN 9781780237206


The human body as an entity in city space forms an intensively contested presence. Contemporary megalopolises comprise arenas in which bodies project gestures and obsessions into urban terrains while undergoing city-generated processes of transformation, disintegration and vanishing. Berlin - from its abrupt acceleration as a megalopolis at the twentieth century's origins to its contemporary form as an amalgam of historical scars and digital environments - is the perfect immersive site in which to explore the imperatives and excesses of ongoing rapports between corporeality and urban space. New anatomical forms and unprecedented urban visions had to be repeatedly created - and destroyed - in Berlin, across the twentieth century, to enable the dynamic interplay between corporeal and city space to take on its extraordinary manifestations. Berlin Bodies draws extensive, previously neglected and original material from the city's archives of vision and sound to interrogate the uniquely body-instilled streets of Berlin and their strata, in such cultures as those of riots, ruins, nightclubs, crowds, architectural experiments, subjugations, city-traversing spectacles, film, art, performance, skin-inscriptions, and 'extremophile' existences. It also examines the ways in which the forms of fragments and constellations have been deployed as seminal means to trace the interzones between bodies and cities. Berlin Bodies is the first cultural history of the body in Berlin, across the twentieth century and into the contemporary moment with its newly urgent corporeal demands and re-envisionings. Based on a quarter-century of close observations of Berlin, this book will be compelling interdisciplinary reading for those engaged with cities, space, visual and digital media, and those for whom Berlin and its multiple histories present an infinite source of insights for contemporary urban cultures.

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