This article investigates the concept of the public sphere as a specific way of reading the city. In the light of current ambiguities of the urban condition, it poses the question of whether the concept does still, in fact, generate a solid geography for understanding the urban landscape. It explores the history and concept of the liberal public sphere, uncovers its rigid regime of identity formation in space, and problematizes its performative dimension by illustrating how this tends to envisage space as a merely passive and abstract stage on which dramatization takes place. In search of alternative ways of reading the city, it subsequently explores the complexity in relations between space and identity. It reconceptualizes space as a palimpsest of historical layers and rethinks identity by recognizing the workings of the strange(r) in constructions of space and identity. Finally, the article suggests the development of a nomadic geography that would allow for a progressive politics to open up gaps and folds in the homogeneous space and discover new spaces that are neither friends nor enemies, neither inside nor outside.
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