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Noir sans frontiers: reflections on the transnational flaneur-as-detective

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociétés : revue des sciences humaines et sociales
Issue number135
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)31-42
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


As Walter Benjamin astutely observes in the Arcades Project and elsewhere, one of the earliest incarnations of the flaneur is to be found in the figure of the urban detective as first conceived in the writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Eugene Sue. In this paper I reflect upon this identification and briefly consider the multiple incarnations of the flaneur and the significance of transnational flanerie in the contemporary cultural and political context. Taking the Danish-Swedish-German neo-noir television series The Bridge (Bron / Broen) [2011, 2013, 2015] as an exemplary contemporary instance of the ‘transnational urban detective,’ I consider three kinds of transationalism:
a) how noir itself constitutes a transitional genre, migrating across borders;
b) how media products / formats can be embedded, dis-embedded and re-embedded in new and different transnational contexts as part of the global culture industry.
c) how noir detectives weave back and forth across and between cities in neighbouring countries as part of their investigations.
I conclude with reflections on how the bridge itself – the very symbol of transnationalism – forms a marginal and liminal site, a non place (Marc Augé’s non lieu) and threshold or in-between space (Siegfried Kracauer’s Zwischenräume), and in so doing provides the transitional flaneur-as-detective not so much with a home but a haunt, a locus of habitual return and inescapable melancholy.