Abstract: "An ever-increasing proportion of our lives is spent in supermarkets, airports and hotels, on motorways or in front of TVs, computers and cash machines. This invasion of the world by what Marc Augé calls 'non-space' results in a profound alteration of awareness: something we perceive, but only in a partial and incoherent manner."
In this book, Augé uses the concept of 'supermodernity' to describe the logic of excessive information and excessive space. He begins with an introduction of anthropology which is a comprehensive study of human beings and our interactions with each other and the environment. He attempts to unravel anthropology from history and argues that the post modernity has brought about much change to the present society. With reference and comparison from past anthropological research, he argues that the post-modernity had led to the much confusion that using the techniques of traditional anthropological researches was no longer applicable for present anthropological researches. As a result, post- modernity threatens the anthropological researches of the present and future. Augé wrote this book during the transition from pre-modernity to post-modernity. It was during this period that Europe experienced drastic changes. There were so much changes to such an extent that the external environment became too unfamiliar to him. This feeling of alienation led him to argue that the present external environment is made up of non-places and these non-places are made up of images. He calls this phenomenon supermodernity. Changes in Europe had led many anthropologists to shift their field of research back from the 'elsewhere'- which refers to the rest of the world, back to 'now'- which refers to Europe itself. As such, Augé is concerned with the continuity of this anthropological discipline which he feels that the historical anthropology had lost meaning in present world. In the Second Edition of this book, Augé also draws our attention to the change of context in 'now' and 'elsewhere' due to recent events of globalisation and urbanization. Of course, the traditional context has not changed much as 'now' still refers to Europe and 'elsewhere' referring to the rest of the world. In his point of view, although there is still a centre of the world, it has now geared down and to some extent deterritorialised. The virtual metacity consists of both the world's huge metropolis and the exchange, information and communications. These metacities of which although still the most influential are located mainly but no longer exclusively in America, Japan and Europe.
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In his book, Augé also wrote that "Anthropological research deals in the present with the question of the other. The question of the other is not just a theme that anthropology encounters from time to time; it is its sole intellectual object, the basis on which different fields of investigation may be defined. It deals with the other in the present; that is sufficient to distinguish it from history. And it deals with it simultaneously in several senses, thus distinguishing itself from the other social sciences.'' This means that there is a relationship form between the present and its external surroundings when we view it in a different angle. For example, during a fieldwork or research, the researchers can treat it as a form of holiday.
A holiday is a shared social experience between the researchers, and at the same time ethnology is a journey of team spirits and shared aims. As a result, the two-way relation between the ethnographers with the fieldwork becomes a three-way relation of the ethnographers to their research, and to each other. This existence of other human beings engaging in one activity meant that opinions and observations made during the event were shared constantly in this situation. Augé argues that in relation to the other, it also creates individuality and identity and through this individuality anthropologists can construct a social link between the individuals and the societies the individual represents. This is often true when individuals from different social backgrounds interact with each other, ideas and cultures are shared. Through their conversations, it is possible for the anthropologists to observe and understand how ideas and concepts were derived for each individual. Further researches on individual backgrounds allow the anthropologists to understand how the different societies have impacted on each individual and hence lead to different ideas and cultures formed. This is because experience of a society precisely locates in time and space, but also experience of some individual belonging to that society. But this individual is not just anybody; he is identified with the society of which he is an expression. This corresponds to what Augé had written: the social begins with the individual; and the individual is the object of ethnological scrutiny.
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He argues that supermodernity creates non- places. In his point of view, if place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place. In his book, he listed a series of events and places that he coined it as non-place, such as a motorway, a airport, cash dispenser and supermarket. Augé suggested that supermodernity is not self-contained. In his point of view, places exist outside non-place and tend to reconstitute themselves inside it. He argues that we are in constant transition between place and non- place for most of our time and concludes that this new form of isolation from place should become the subject of an anthropology of its own.
In this book, the main argument and characteristic of supermodernity is excess. Augé brought up three forms of excess which results in non-places, namely the excess of time, excess of space and excess of ego.
Augé argues that the excess of time is resulted from the increase in life expectancy today. This brought along social changes that lead to the possibility of coexistence of four generations from three generation. The excess of time also means that whatever happens today quickly becomes obsolete; becomes history. This is also due to the constant and rapid change in the objects happening in our society. In this book, Augé calls it the acceleration of history. He mentioned that "We barely have time to reach maturity before our past has become history, our individual histories belong to history writ large. Nowadays the recent past becomes history as soon as it has been lived." This change also the way anthropologists should view history today. History need not be events that occurred dating back to the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Events that occurred few months or days ago can be used as historical reference for future events and precaution matters. For example the bombing of the world trade center in United States during the September 11 was used as a historical reference and learning point for future terrorism security matters just the next day after the tragedy.
The acceleration of history would also mean that series of events are very often not predicted by historians, economists or sociologists. Hence, it is important to act according to the present situation as well. In his argument, Augé believes that the acceleration of history is largely due to the overabundance of events. It is this overabundance that makes us feel the need and urgency to give meaning to the present; to understand the whole of the present which makes it difficult for us to give meaning to the recent past. "The appearance, among individuals in contemporary societies, of a positive demand for meaning may offer a paradoxical explanation of phenomena which are sometimes interpreted as the signs of a crisis of meaning." Augé (2008, P.25)
Similarly, the excess of space is in correlation with globalization which Augé calls it the "shrinking of the planet" (2008, P.25); the process by which nations and regional economies, cultures and societies are connected and linked by global spanning networks of communication and exchange. Drawing the illustration from astronauts stepping foot in outerspace, he argues that this had reduce our own space to an infinite point, of which satellite photographs appropriately give us the exact measurement. This outcome of spatial overabundance involves considerable physical modifications such as urban concentrations, movements of population and the multiplication of what we call 'non-places'. This phenomenon is in opposed with the sociological notion of place and a whole ethnological traditional with the idea of a culture localized in time and space. The shrinking planet and its change of scale, caused by technological advances set off by rapid means of transport and communication such as flying, satellite communication and the internet - the means that offer fast and sometimes even instant access to information or events.
Augé argues that the globalisation process, shrinking planet and cross of national boundaries creates non-places. At the same time, he also argues that the installations and technologies that are needed to support this accelerated circulation and movement of population, goods and information are just as much non- places. This is because the inhabitants of the societies who spend most of their time in these non-places rely heavily on such devices so that they can exist in these non-places. In this book, Augé also added in a precautionary note that one should always take the information they received, be it from broadcasted image or internet with a pinch of salt as they could be subjected to some manipulation and distortion so as to influence the perception and mindset of their receivers. These information, in his point of view act as decoy which are hard to identify has to power to create and manipulate homogeneity in their receivers, as such leading to a loss of identity and individuality. This can be seen from his book when he wrote that: "Of course we anticipate perverse effects, or possible distortions, from information whose images are selected in this way: not only can be manipulated, but the broadcast image exercises an influence, possesses a power far in excess of any objective information it carries. It should be noted, too, that the screens of the planet daily carry a mixture of images of which neither the presentation nor the purpose is identical, at least in principle, but which assemble before our eyes a universe that is relatively homogeneous in its diversity." Augé (2008, P. 26)
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Augé laments the disintegration cultures and identity in the process of globalization and urbanization and this phenomenon according to Augé is a major concern. Societies which used to identify with cultures are now conceived as a complete whole, hence implying that the societies are moving towards homogeneity. Societies comprising of different individuals should present diversity and individuality. Instead, the universes of meaning in societies today would mean that "individuals and groups inside them are just an expression, defining themselves in terms of the same criteria, the same values and the same interpretation procedures."Augé(2008, P.27) Similarly, this concept of homogeneity has been brought up by Thomas L. Friedman is his book "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century". He mentioned about the shift in perception for countries, companies and individual wanting to stay competitive in a global market where historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant. People no longer recognized themselves as citizens of a particular nation, city or town. Instead, they are increasingly identifying themselves as world citizens which the term itself is not geographically bounded. As a result, Augé concludes this point by saying that we should change our perception of space as the world of supermodernity does not match the one in which we believe we live, for we live in a world that we have not yet learned to look at.
Augé then follows on to discuss about the excess of ego in relation to supermodernity. In his point of view, the excess of ego is the consequence of both the other two excesses mentioned above. This excess of ego is further enhanced by the contemporary liberal political language of individual freedoms as well as by advertising apparatus in particular. This excess of ego in Augé's opinion resulted to higher level of self-analysis of information received and individual representation and he calls it singular character to practice or alienation. This is because in supermodernity today, the individual wants to be a world in himself; he intends to interpret the information he receives by himself and for himself. So, this posts a problem to anthropologists today in new terms in which how it is possible to think about and situate the individual in the society. In other words, anthropologists today have to decide how it is best to integrate the subjectivity of those they observe into their analysis and redefine the conditions of representativeness to take account of the renewed status of the individual in our societies.
Apart from looking at the heavy emphasis of excess ego and individual reference, Augé mentioned that we should also draw our attention to the factors of singularity; such as "singularity of objects, of groups or memberships, the reconstruction of places". Augé argues that these singularities of all sorts that constitute a paradoxical counterpoint to the procedures of interrelation acceleration and de-localisation are often haphazardly reduced and summarized in expression like 'homogenisation of culture' or 'world culture'.
Augé followed on by introducing the concept of 'anthropological place'. Augé refers to a place as an anthropological place. From his point of view an anthropological place is characterized as a place with identity, relationships and history. It is mentioned in his book that, "Anthropological place is formed by individual identities, through complicities of language, local references, the unformulated rules of living know-how."
The place which Augé introduced in his book, is a simple, self-sufficient closed society which evolves geographically and organically where the inhabitants have strong sense of belonging to where they reside in. Apart from that, these places present clear demarcation of boundaries, beliefs, culture and history. "Collectivities, like their individual members, need to think simultaneously about identity and relations; and to this end they need to symbolise the components of shared identity, particular identity and singular identity."Augé(2008, P.42) There are also strong social references and rituals that the inhabitants will follow without being expected to question, as such making the whole process seen as sacred. It is all these rituals and discourse that gives the group identity and as this group identity is established, they are united by the identity of place. This identity is an identity the group now has to defend against external and internal threats to ensure that the language of identity retains its meaning. This is the anthropological place that Augé describes as the ideological tales of autochthony and belonging advanced by people to legitimate their own territorial interest while weakening those of their neighbours.
In addition, individuals in a particular location have their own individuality. Their interactions with other individuals sharing the same location form the shared identity of the place. This is similar to what Michel de Certeau perceives that although every element of the place adjoins others, in a specific 'location', the 'place' is an 'instantaneous configuration of positions'. This suggests that although the elements coexisting in the same place may be distinct and singular, we should also take into account their interrelations, or about the shared identity conferred to them by their common.
At the same time, an anthropological place necessarily becomes historical when combining identity with relations. According to Augé who believes that supermodernity has transformed the anthropological place into a space which the inhabitants now can only find fragments of their histories and memories. As a result, these inhabitants have become "spectators of themselves, tourists of the private. They can hardly blame nostalgia or tricks of memory for objectively evident changes to the space in which they used to live, which is no longer the place where they used to live."Augé (2008, P.45) In my opinion, on a scientific perspective, anthropological place is the remnants of a past society which used to inhabit the place. Regardless, history and memories are tangible and abstract, thus should not be able to be left behind like physical pieces in an anthropological place. Supermodernity should not have any bearing on the history and memories experienced by an individual as they are conscious emotion.
According to Augé, anthropological place can be mapped into three simple spatial forms. All of which can be applied to different institutional arrangements. These three spatial forms are also the elementary forms of social space. These spatial forms can be in terms of geometric terms, everyday geographical terms and lastly, monumental types. Combinations of spaces are representative to a certain institutional complexity. However, these three simple forms are not characteristic of solely great political and economic spaces. They are also found in village and domestic spaces.
History of these spatial forms is concretised in and through time. Places devoted to cults, political and religious assembly, fulfil this role at certain moments. These incidents are what that creates the conditions for the memory attached to certain places, thereby creating their sacred character. In the book Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, Durkheim said that a feast or ceremony is considered as 'sacred' because not only it gives the participants the chance to remind themselves that they belong to the same group, it also reminds them of past celebrations; "the notion of sacred is linked to the retrospective element stemming from the alternating character of the feast or ceremony."Augé (2008, P.48)
The three criterias for anthropological places; identity, relations and history have been vital in the planning of urban spaces of post-modernity era. It is important to note that the identification of power with places and monuments has become a constant political discussion in modern states. The notions of itinerary, intersection, centre and monument are useful not only for the description of traditional anthropological places, they are also be applied in contemporary urban spaces.
The organisation and layout of the cities and towns, where the different buildings are placed gives the entire place a sense of power and authority. When we look at the planning of the city, very often we find that the grand square or city square is placed in the center of the city or town. It is then surrounded by important buildings such as the city hall and other religious monuments. The openness of the square and the existence of buildings that represents authority give the whole city or town the sense of power and dignity. It is then mentioned in the book that "a City layout tends to boast a center containing monuments that symbolise religious authority and civil authority. The centre is an active place."Inhabitants of these places recognise and identify with these sacred monuments and landmarks and attach these historical meanings to their daily lives. This process as a result creates a form of social relationship between the inhabitants with the cities or towns and also amongst the inhabitants within the cities or towns. Such process of attachments, and identifications according to Émile Durkheim is 'sacred'. It is sacred in a sense that the inhabitants participants together in the same kind of ritual to protect the demarcations and identity of a place which they all reside in and identify with. Consequently, social relations between the participants are formed.
The anthropological place also has a history as mentioned above; the inhabitants attached historical names to buildings, urban landscape and streets. This is particularly important as a city or town without a history or memory, is a loss city or town. It is the sense of nostalgia amongst the inhabitants that link them together and that attach them to the place they have strong feelings for.
The inhabitants of such domestic and village spaces have sense of belonging and identity so strong that they began to feel the place is of great importance to them and their daily lives. They begin to attach meanings to buildings, landscapes and streets. They also give names to these buildings, urban landscapes and streets that link them to history. As a result, these buildings, landscapes and streets become a form of sacred monument that marks the city or town; "Urban forms, streetscapes and landmarks are becoming 'monuments' when the names given immerse them in history. These incessant references to history cause frequent crossconnecitons between the notions of itineraries, crossroads and monuments." Signs are put up also to indicate and identify certain areas of the places. These clear signs of demarcations build up a sense of territorial and belonging. These signs also serve as a form of reminder for the inhabitants. Constantly reminding them where they reside in.
Augé proposed the hypothesis that supermodernity creates non places. In his point of view, if place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational or historical or concerned with identity is a non-place. Non-places are temporary spaces for passage, communication and consumption. Motorways from the car interiors, motorway restaurants, service, petrol stations, large supermarkets, duty free shops and the passenger transit lounges of world airports in Augé point of view are considered as non-places. In this book, Anthropological places are contrasted to spaces; places in turn are contrasted to nonplaces. This can be seen from the book as Augé wrote that "As anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractuality." Augé mentioned that non-places represent the weakening of the public man and the emerging of the self-obsessed man. Non-places are the result of solidarity arrangement. The requirement to keying in our credit card number, pin number and passwords that are meant to create safety leads to solitude and alienation.
As non-places are created by excess of time, space and ego, the distinctive examples of non-places can also be found in relation to travel as human activity. The distinction between places and non-places derives from the opposition between place and space. Space stems from the double movement of the traveller and also the parallel movement of landscapes; "which the traveller catches only in partial glimpse, a series of 'snapshots' piled hurriedly into his memory and, literally, recomposed in the account he gives of them, the sequencing of slides in the commentary he imposes on his entourage when he returns." In this sense, travel is view as frictional. A frictional relationship is being constructed between the landscape and gaze. The traveller's space is hence can be considered as non-place. In Augé opinion, the shifting of gaze and imaginations, the emptying of consciousness are caused by the characteristic features of supermodernity. As a result, these subject the individual consciousness to entirely new experience and proliferation of non-places.
In this age of supermodernity, Augé suggested that we are living in a space of hypertext as he said that "the link between individuals and their surroundings in space of non-place is established through the mediation of words, or even texts." We are constantly reminded by words and texts what and where we should do and go next. Through advertisements, images of different places are constantly presented in our minds that divert us from our real environment. Non-place establishes the traffic conditions of spaces in which individuals are suppose to interact only with texts, whose proponents are no individuals but 'moral entities' or institutions. As such, the space of non-place creates neither singular identity nor relations; only solitude and similitude.
The period which Augé refers as the age of supermodernity is during the 1980s which we tend to call it the period of post-modernity. The sudden drastic change led him to feel confuse about the environment he lived in and seek to derive some meaning from it. As such many places due to change has become non-places to him. I would like to say that his definition of a non-place is rather ambiguous and subjective. In his second edition of this book, he also emphasise the fact that either place or non-place really exist in absolute term. The place/ non-place pairing is just an instrument for measuring the degree of sociality and symbolisation of a given space. Obviously, some places can be constituted in what for outsiders remains rather a non-place.
In the book, Place and identity: a sense of place Gillian Rose argued that the sense of place used by many geographers to refer to the significance of particular places for people. I agree to the point that senses of place develop from every aspect of individuals' life experience and that sense of place pervade everyday life and experience. As a result, we can say that places are infused with different meanings and feelings. Place is created by people who reside in it and the identity is how individuals make sense of themselves to the surroundings they are in. meanings given to a place is sometimes so strong that they become the central part of the identity of the people experiencing it. Places together with the identities are then refer to lived experiences and all the feelings associated with everyday consciousness.
In this section, I would like to explore how the public housing in Singapore was turned into a non-place in the post-war period and how the government efforts attempt to transform it into a place with identity in the recent years.
Singapore is well-known for its public housing programme, which currently houses 87% of the country's population. Initially, the main objective was to provide shelter for the increasing population. As such, due to the need for rapid construction, little emphasis was placed on the design of the buildings. Most of the public housing estates in Singapore at that period of time had an uniform and monotonous appearance. Strong criticisms were given for such estates argued that these standardisation stems from the post-war urban planning, whereby the built environment was defined solely in utilitarian terms along the lines of functionalism, as a result, by the 1980s, Singapore was described as 'another metropolis but also faceless and homogenous and lacking the sense of place.' In addition, the population before the development of public housing used to live in slums or "kampong" (wooden attap house villages" which as a very strong and close-knitted community. Many were reluctant to relocate into these high-rise and high density urban environments. Such spaces to them were considered as non-places as the close community relationships were broken.
In recent years, the Housing and development boards (HDB) has responded to these critics by becoming more concerned with the types and quality of housings it is providing. Highly visible designs were added to the skyline of these housing estates to make each estate unique so that residents can have a sense of identity. Each precinct has their own focus of activities and facilities such as walkways, courtyards and pavilions are meant as places of interaction. In Yi Fu Tuan's book, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, 'fields of care' are require for a space to be considered as place and for the inhabitants to have the sense of identity. These places are not significant or distinctive. However, they are able to evoke intense meanings for the inhabitants. The HDB attempts to through such places like the courtyards, walkways, markets and pavilions, create attachment and affection when inhabitants spent time, repeated experiences and interacting with one another. These public symbols need not be mutually exclusive but they underlies the importance of the experiences felt by the people living in a locality, which together create the sense of belonging and rootedness for the place.
Here, I would also like to explore the different non-places suggested by Augé and present a related view of a modern urban landscape and sense of existence within such a landscape. Taking again from the experience of travelling, we shall explore how we see our world via the transportation system, which bypass our history. Spaces are areas we pass through without historical or cultural meaning but places anchors us to particular notions of events in times past. Augé hence argues that these resulting non-spaces have little or no identity and certainty no history.
Augé argues that the airport is a distinctive non-place of travel. It is just a provisional space on the global network of air travel. We cannot find any history attached to the identity of an airport. The images and memory presented by an airport is limited to the airport lounges, duty free shops, flight arrivals and departures based on schedules and fixed time slots. Surrounding infrastructures such as the car parks and subways are also non-places because together with the airport, they serve as transit points, identifying the individuals only on entering and leaving. One example of depicting airport as a non-place would be the work Imagine that You Are Moving of an artist, Julian Opie which was installed in Heathrow Airport. It was displayed in the airport's transit passengers lounges where international passengers wait for their connecting flights. This work was represented by four light large light boxes of British stylized landscape. Since the passengers waiting for their flight do not actually enter Britain, the title of this work is perhaps trying to invite the viewer to take this opportunity to see the British landscape which would otherwise not be seen. This creates a virtual image of replacing the actual city landscape with this artwork. I would also like to argue that the term non-place for an airport can be subjective as well. Perhaps for an ordinary individual, airport is only a transit point. Hence, there is not much identification, relation and sense of belonging. However, for a person who works in the airport it might be a different case. Each day, he establishes many relationships with his colleagues, customers and passengers. There is a sense of identity and belonging to the airport and company. At the same time, there is also the existence of history for this person as he might have worked in the airport for a long period of time. Hence, there are memories and histories accumulated.
Similarly, the Motorway is another typical non-place of travel, which Augé regards it as anonymous and temporary. Along the motorway, places and landscapes become the readings of non-places and abstract direction signs. This environment of the motorway as a space is in opposed to any sense of place mentioned by Augé. In one of the works of Matthew Smith, he attempts to present such opposition with the use of postcards. This project was sited at Tibshelf services, where he will display a number of postcards portraying a consecutive section of the motorway. He thinks that by the most common way of viewing the country through a window of a car on the daily commute from home to work and back, it is often easy to forget about the landscape and natural beauty. Hence, the motorway is like an enclosed space which shields the individual sitting in the car from the exterior place.
Thirdly, we shall take a look at the petrol (service) stations. These are convenience stops along the motorway. In my opinion, they only serve as a provisional and temporary space. There is no history or identity to these service stations due to its solidarity arrangement. For an individual, being on the road means everything is reduced to convenience and necessity. Hence, service stations are considered dehumanizing as they only serve as transit points for the travelers where they enter just to get their necessary items and leave. These temporary or transit spaces are reflected in urban transport systems, in railway stations and common facilities erected along the road sides. "Main roads no longer pass through towns, but list their notable features - and, indeed, a whole commentary - appear on big signboards nearby." Augé (1995, P. 97)
Augé argues that supermarkets are considered non-places. However, in my point of view, they are not. Urban identities are created in supermarkets as not only they serve as places for shopping purposes; they serve as a place to socialize. In my country, Singapore, supermarkets are usually located in the heartlands and city centers. These are places where women especially housewives gather and shop for their groceries together. At the same time, stories and memories are being shared amongst them. To them, the supermarkets are places where there are relationships established, a place where memories and experiences are shared and most importantly, a place where they can identify themselves with. Very often, cafes and pedestrian areas are incorporated into these big supermarkets. After one day of shopping in the supermarkets, these cafes provide a resting place for these housewives to continue interacting with one another. As a result, these non-places mentioned by Augé are in fact transformed back into places where people can identify with.
Of course, it is not wrong for Augé to consider supermarkets as places of non-places. These spaces as he view them as provisional as the other mentioned spaces where people enter just to get their daily necessities, complete their transactions with machines and leave with their goods. These are transit points that have no history and identity of their own.
However, in any case the term non-place is not an absolute term. I would consider supermarkets in my country as not a non-place. This is because supermarkets are always bustling with activities. Not only are they a socializing place for the housewives, with having also toys area where kids have their fun while parents shop for their goods. There are also promoters promoting their goods and establishing relationships with the customers. Annually, supermarkets also have celebrations such as their company's anniversary where they will get involve their customers to participate in their celebrations. Hence, supermarkets are places with relations, history and identity.
According to Augé, shopping centers are as much as a non-place as motorways, airports and supermarkets. However, I beg to differ such opinion with reference again to shopping malls in Singapore. Shopping malls in Singapore are one of the top attractions for the tourism industry as well as for Singaporeans themselves, and are affectionately coined the national past-time. Orchard Road is one whole stretch of retail and entertainment hub in Singapore. Currently, it is in the midst of connecting all the shopping malls located in Orchard Road via underground shopping connectors. Along the connectors, there are also retail shops where shoppers now do not need to go up to the pavements to enter another shopping mall. In addition, there is also a trend towards mega and mixed development shopping malls where various entertainment ranging from retail services, food and beverages, public libraries, cinemas and arcades, transportation terminals, and residential developments all under one roof. Vivocity and Orchard Ion are good examples of such mega mixed developments. These shopping malls are constantly bustling with activities and shoppers from all walks of life enjoy such entertainment. The layouts of the shopping malls are also going towards a trend of incorporating more open spaces within the building. As such, these promote interactions and social gatherings for the shoppers. Events are also often held at shopping mall atriums during the weekends to promote family bonding. Hence, relationships and social interactions are formed.
Shopping in such shopping malls is no longer a place where people just enter and buy the goods they need and leave. It has become a form of trendy lifestyle that people can enjoy and identify with. Moreover, when we look at the evolution of shopping malls in Singapore, it is interesting to find out that in the past, the structures of shopping malls tend to be quite conservative. However, today we see that modern and contemporary building structures of shopping malls designed by international architects. Shopping malls compete amongst themselves not only for the volume of customers; they also compete within themselves the appearance of their building and the curb appeal they can offer to the customers. On top of it, in the past shopping centers were solely for retail and commercial purposes. Nowadays, we have mixed development where we incorporate residential purposes and social entertainment together with commercial and retail needs. With reference to such evolution, we can observe the historical route that these shopping malls have taken. As such, in my opinion shopping malls should not be considered as a non-place in Singapore. This is because shopping has become a lifestyle Singaporeans identify with, and at the same time interactions and relationship are formed in the midst of conjugating in the malls.
Finally, when we discuss about travelling it is often very important not to neglect the historical sites that are conserved and preserved to attract tourists and travelers. Buildings and monuments are attached with historical meanings. According to Augé, places which comprises of relations, history, cultural and identity are anthropological places. On the surface, historical sites fulfill the criteria to be known as anthropological places. However, as we pry further, we would expect to see that such historical identity were being re-packaged and advertised to create images in individual minds. Such images are diverted from their original and traditional images; making them artificial. Such histories and identities portrayed are no longer those that they used to be. Hence, individuals now exist in spaces that are created especially for them. There are no longer relations, history and identity; as such, making them non-places.
Taking a step forward from travelling, we take a look at how individuals are being connected through communication network spanning globally. Augé laments the phenomenon of shrinking planet which results in the lost of identity and individuality. Recently, we observe the phenomenon of individuals being connected globally by platforms such as Facebook. No doubt relations are established. However, when we take one step back to think, we start to question ourselves that these relationships established are not real. We also start to question ourselves the term 'friend' when we become a 'friend' of another person. Sometimes, we might not really know the person or that person might just be an acquaintance. However, on Facebook we are known as friends who traditionally we were not that close to be known as friends. I would say that in such a case, this space is virtual; where Augé calls it non-place. In my personal view, I will totally agree with him that although relations were established through this platform, it is entirely virtual and there is no historical or identity references.
In conclusion, the realities of today's world, places and spaces, places and non-places intertwine and tangle together. Individuals are constantly transiting between places and non-places, non- places and spaces. As mentioned by Augé, "words and images in transit through non-places can take root in the -still diverse- places where people still try to construct part of their daily life. For Augé case, he has lived through the transition of change from the pre-modernity to post-modernity. As result, he is able to feel and observe the results of the changes and advancement. However, for the Y- generations- individuals like me- we are so used to such advancement and modernity that those places that Augé considered as anthropological places might in turn become non-places to us.