During the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (1958–1969), state-led spatial planning transformed the Paris region. The aim of the Schéma directeur d’aménagement et d’urbanisme de la région de Paris (1965) was to improve urban life through modernization; but its scale and ambition meant that it came to represent the hubris of state power. This article examines the role of discourse and narrative in state planning. It explores the role of planning discourses in the production of space, as well as stories told about planning by the planners and those who live with their actions. It investigates perceptions of power in post-war France, placing the Gaullist view of the state as a force for good in the context of contemporary critiques of state power. Addressing the relationship between power, resistance, and critique, it sees the environments produced by spatial planning as complex objects of dispute, enmeshed in conflicting hopes and visions of the future.
Bibliographical noteI would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. It also benefitted greatly from the wisdom of Professor Andrea Noble. A pioneering scholar of Latin America and visual culture, Andrea died suddenly in May 2017. The article is dedicated to her memory.
- State planning
- Paul Delouvrier
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- School of Divinity, History & Philosophy, George Washington Wilson Centre for Art and Visual Culture
- School of Language, Literature, Music & Visual Culture, French - Carnegie Chair of French