Welcome to Here There Be Dragons. A podcast about fear, identity and the cities we live in.
Alexandre | First Arrival
Alexandre is a comedian. His father is French and from a far southern banlieue. His mother is from the Philippines. He moved to Paris from where his parents were living in Indonesia to go to business school, but prior to that he grew up with his mother’s family in San Francisco. He lives in a wealthy western banlieue, Boulogne-Billancourt. His use of the city consists of back and forth trips from the west to the center city. Interestingly, even though he has to travel to les Halles-Châtelet for his comedy shows, it still remains a problematic place to him.
Many of the maps of childhood impressions and new arrivals remind me of the famous map by urban sociologist Paul-Henri Chambart de Lauwe, where he mapped a young Parisian woman’s movements between her home, school, and music lessons for a year. Her movements took the form of an enormous triangle repeated again and again each day. In Alexandre’s maps you can see the same impulse, regular trajectories repeated again and again. The city for him is a circuit consisting of his school, his work, his comedy shows, and his family. The change between the two maps reveals that the locations of his obligations and affinities have increased over time.
Alexandre | Current
Alice | Childhood
Alice was born in the 15th arrondisment and later moved with her family to Courbevoie, a northwestern banlieue. In her late teens, she became very familiar with both the more touristic and the more difficult neighborhoods in the city. She later settled in the 19th arrondissement in a fast gentrifying neighborhood. Alice’s maps reveal the small bubble of her childhood, concentrated very densely in the Northwest where she lived and went to school. As an adult, she circles the entire city of Paris, because she knows it very well but she no longer goes to the banlieue frequently.
Alice | Current
Alison | First Arrival
Alison is an editor and journalist. She was born in Somerset, England. She moved to Paris in her late thirties, although she had visited the city many times previously. Her knowledge of the city came mostly from her touristic visits, but when she moved to live in Paris, she moved to Maison Alford, a southeastern banlieue. She quickly moved from there to the 19th due to transit problems then settled in the 10th. Alison’s maps tell the story of her rocky first year in Paris, when she moved to Maison Alfort, a banlieue she considered to be unsettling. Her job as a critic brings her all over the city but when she relocated to Paris proper, the amount of red in her map decreased. Alison’s maps have some of the most energetic and wild line work. This makes a lot of sense since as a critic, she had to travel all over the eastern part of the city, where many of the theaters are. In her second map, the line takes a more typical trajectory now that she works as an editor. She travels back and forth from various offices but also explores around her neighborhood in the 10th arrondissment.
Alison | Current
Anne | First Arrival
Anne is an architect, community organizer, and professor at the architecture school in the 19th arrondissement. She moved to Paris from the banlieues of Lyon as a student. At first, as a student, she lived in the center city, but moved to northern Montreuil. She set up a firm there with her partner. As a high schooler in Lyon, in the early 80s, she organized with the well-known March for Equality and Against Racism. Almost as the inverse of Alison’s map, when Anne first moved to Paris as a student, she was in Paris proper. When she moved to Montreuil to her activity explodes, encompassing many of the eastern banlieues and eastern Paris proper. Anne’s maps are very distinct from each other and represent two very different periods of her life. The first one represents her life as a student. Her trajectories are very focused on areas where she has friends, family, and school. Later in her life, as a planning practitioner she travels all over the eastern metro region and really considers the entire area to be her territory.
Anne | Current
Anthony | First Arrival
Anthony is a stock manager for Amazon, He is from and still lives in Vitry-sur-Seine, a southern banlieue. He feels a strong desire to leave the banlieue and live in Paris “intramuros.” His knowledge of the city comes in a large part from growing up in the banlieue. As a teenage, he frequented places that are accessible by train like Les Halles and the banks of the Seine. Like most native interviewees as a young person Anthony was stayed close to his banlieue and places he could reach on the subway line he lived near. In Anthony’s first map, he has the familiar nodes of activity, however the red spaces near his hometown reveal his understanding of Vitry, in terms of where he would feel comfortable going or not. The second map mostly dispenses with the nodes of childhood and takes in most of north and east Paris as Anthony’s familiar territory. Vitry remains nodal because although Anthony still lives there, he spends most of his time in Paris proper.
Anthony | Current
Aurélie | First Arrival
Aurélie is a lawyer. She is from one of France’s island departments, Réunion Island, which is off the coast of Madagascar. She studied in Paris for her law degree, returned to Reunion, and later returned to Paris for a job. During law school she lived with an uncle in Malakoff, a southern banlieue. Even though it’s very close to Paris, transit was difficult for her. She then moved to the Goutte d’Or in the 18th arrondissment then finally settled in the Ménilmontant neighborhood. Her own knowledge of the city is highly based in safety. She doesn’t go to neighborhoods where she feels unsafe or has experienced harassment. Aurélie’s first map reveals a very typical view of Paris, a strong discomfort with the north and a comfort with the more touristy left bank. But after moving around the city and living in the places that she feared, she developed a more nuanced view, though there are still areas of the north that she finds scary. Aurélie two maps really represent a shift in familiarity. In the first map you see the trends of a new arrival, lots of red in the more diverse north and blue in the more touristy South (i.e. the left bank). However, as Aurélie moved around in the city, her feelings became more fine grained. There are areas that are still red in the north but there is also some blue and her comfort zones also spread from the left bank to the east where she now lives.
Aurélie | Current
Badié | Childhood
Eric is a musician. He grew up in a cité (housing project) in Pantin, an eastern banlieue, and now lives in the more gentrified area of Pantin. His knowledge of the city comes from his young adulthood performing and attending shows in Paris. He chose not to live in Paris, reasoning that is was more affordable for him to keep a music studio in Pantin. As a young man, he often hung out in groups of other young men, which for him meant that he was likely not in danger in public space. Eric’s childhood map shows his relationship to a center city as a teen. All of his nodes are in the center where he was performing and his map shows his back and forth trajectory with his hometown, Pantin. Now as an adult living in Pantin this relationship is largely the same, the northeastern area is largely a territory of comfort for him. Though he points out the west as a place he avoids.
Badié | Childhood
Bernard | First Arrival
Bernard is a child psychoanalyst. I’m not sure whether to call Bernard a native or not since his parents are from the region, but they moved frequently. He grew up all over the world. When he settled back in Paris, he was a teenager. He lived in the Bastille/Faubourg de Saint-Antoine area before the Opéra Bastille was built, which propelled the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood. He then settled in Montreuil where he lives now. He never really answered questions of safety and danger but did experience anger and discomfort with wealthy neighborhoods. Many of the red areas on his map are because of discomfort with public displays of wealth. Bernard’s childhood map has the very typical nodes, places he went to school or accompanied his parents. His adult map shows the development of a comfortable territory in the east and a resentment towards to the west.
Bernard | Current
Dania | Childhood
Dania is a student. She is the youngest person I spoke to. She is from the 15th arrondissement, which is on the border with the very wealthy 7th arrondissement (where the Eiffel tower is). When she came back to Paris from school she had noticed a new police station had opened on her route home. She was very uncomfortable with the way that soldiers, who were posted in front of the station, would check her out. Her knowledge of the city is largely focused on where she grew up, since she also went to school a block from her house. The red in her maps is largely in places that she does not hang out because of rumors that she has heard from friends and family. Since Dania is still very young, her maps are relatively similar. The difference between the two is the expansion of the comfort zone and the reduction of the insecure or vulnerable places. Dania’s map is less nodal then other childhood natives because her home and school were very close to each other.
Dania | Current
Dannii | Childhood
Dannii is an insurance agent. She is from Epinay-sur-Seine, a northern banlieue. Epiney-sur-Seine is broadly considered a difficult neighborhood and was involved in the 2005 revolts. Her knowledge of the city is based on the freedom that she experienced growing up presenting as male. Unlike her sisters, her parents allowed her a lot of leeway. She traveled all over the Parisian region from a very young age. But she is very conscious of the way she dresses in the banlieue versus in Paris proper. She attributed coming out of her banlieue unscathed with her talent for managing dress codes as well as her parents’ decision to send her and her sisters to private school. Dannii has a pretty unusual map since it takes in so much territory so young. As a young person presenting as male and also the eldest child in her family, Dannii even with the freedom she was given she often pushed parental boundaries. When she came out as trans as an adult there were certain places like les Halles-Châtelet became more uncomfortable. In her adult map you can see that her zones of discomfort expand.
Dannii | Current
Esther | Childhood
Esther is a student. She also works in interfaith organizing. Esther grew up in the 7th arrondissement. She feels very sensitive to the way she dresses in public space. For her, this comes both from public pressure and her own family, encouraging her to dress more conservatively. As a Jewish woman, she also feels uncomfortable in places where anti-Semitic acts have happened in the city and tries to avoid them. Due to dissuasion by her parents, she also avoids and feels uncomfortable on public transportation. In particular she avoids the 2 line on the subway, because it passes through neighborhoods where she has had bad experiences. Esther grew up in a very touristy area but her parents often warned her about the North of Paris, so she rarely went there. As an adult she had some bad experiences being harassed in the north of Paris and so she still avoids it. Esther’s nodes of comfort expand to the north and south while her zone of discomfort contracts.
Esther | Current
Evelyne | Childhood
Evelyne is an administrator at an architecture firm in the Marais. She grew up in Créteil, a southern banlieue. Her parents are both refugees from Cambodia. Even though she works in the Marais (which is in the center city) and all her siblings have moved to Paris, she does not want to move. Evelyne has a very pointillist approach to the city. She has home and destinations. She has spent the most time in Créteil where she also went to university. Evelyne also has very nodal maps. Her map of childhood is just two nodes of comfort that she traveled between, her home and her aunt’s home. In her adult maps, you can see the proliferation of nodes that witnesses her further exploration of the city and the expansion of her obligations in Paris proper.
Evelyne | Current
Franck | First Arrival
Franck is an architect. He's from a small town in the Bretagne region. He moved to Paris for work. Bretagne is a pretty homogenous white catholic region. Franck is also catholic. Living in larger cities exposed him to many types of diversity that he did not experience as a young person. Moving to Paris also exposed him to social codes around class. He spoke about being harassed in the street for looking upper class. He said this was a shock to him since his mother is a housecleaner and his father is a highway worker. He is very careful about what he wears in public. He is also most comfortable in gentrified neighborhoods. Franck first moved to Paris to work at la Défense, during this time he was living in Chinatown. Franck’s map is also quite nodal, typical of a new arrival. After changing jobs from La Défense to the left bank, his nodes of comfort and discomfort proliferate in Paris proper.
Franck | Current
Françoise | Childhood
Françoise is an architect and architecture critic. She grew up in the southern banlieue Châtillon. As a student she moved to the 14h arrondissement and remained there. As an architect she is completely comfortable in the city and its surrounding banlieues. However, she mentioned that, as she gets older, she feels more vulnerable in public space. She noted Les Halles-Châtelet as a node of particular anxiety because it is often crowded and difficult to navigate. Françoise is a very much an explorer of Paris even though her maps don’t really show this. She had a typical contained life in the banlieue as a child. But as an architecture professor and a devotee of Paris she often goes between places on foot, which makes her feel comfortable and familiar with most neighborhoods. Even though both Françoise’s maps are both nodal, her trajectory in the second map begins to reveal a territory. She has the typical concentrated childhood map with one main trajectory but as an adult her nodes expand and her trajectory encircles eastern Paris.
Françoise | Current
Frank | First Arrival
Frank is an urban development manager. He grew up in East Germany. He first came to Paris as an exchange student and moved to Paris when he married his wife, who is French. As a student he lived in the 7th arrondissement but moved with his family to Fontainebleau. Although he was well aware that many of the areas deemed dangerous in the Parisian region have exaggerated reputations, he said that he would feel uncomfortable being stuck in them. But as he moved further out of the city the rumors of the North of Paris being dangerous solidified in his mind even though he has very little cause to go there and has even less personal experience with this part of the city. Frank maps are a bit strange and difficult to interpret with nodes imbedded in what appear to be territories. I think that red in the first map shows his distaste for the wealthier parts of Pairs but his life as a student was largely confined to them. In the second map aren’t able to see where Frank now lives in the wealthy far banlieue of Fontainebleau but we do see his trajectory to get to work in Versailles and his discomfort with the northeastern banlieues.
Frank | Current
Hervé | Childhood
Hervé is an administrator and webmaster. He grew up Aubervilliers, a northern banlieue. His parents are also from Aubervilliers and still live there. He moved to Paris proper for work and for his partner. He feels very comfortable in the banlieue and feels disdain for people who buy into stereotypes about his neighborhood and others like it. However, he admits that he was uncomfortable when his partner would come meet him after dark. He says this was a part of the decision to move. With some prodding from his partner he also admitted that he had been kidnapped, robbed, and left in a roadside forest, while visiting his friend in Saint-Denis. He says that although he tries to avoid the place where he was kidnapped, the event did not change his opinion of the banlieue. Hervé’s maps are both very nodal. His childhood map is pretty typical and very confined to the northeast. In his second map his nodes spread to different parts of the north in both Paris proper and the banlieue.
Hervé | Current
Isabelle | Childhood
Isabelle is a health professional. She grew up in the northern banlieue, Sarcelles, where her mother still lives. She now lives in the eastern banlieue, Noisy-le-Sec. Sarcelles, where she grew up, has a complicated reputation when it was first built as a new town. The term “sarcellite” was slang for an out of work drunk in the 50s and 60s. Isabelle said that as a child she felt very comfortable that but in retrospect she feels that things that were normal to her then are worrying to her now. She did not elaborate but admitted that she dislikes that her mother still lives in the cité in Sarcelles where she grew up. She also said that she doesn’t explore her banlieue but comes straight home from work. She does know her neighbors very well. In fact, when I went to interview her, she was throwing a block party. For her, the banlieue is for living and Paris proper is for leisure. Isabelle’s maps are also nodal but note that on the first map her hometown of Sarcelles is farther north than the map extends. As an adult she works in Paris and lives in the banlieue and her maps shows the nodes of those obligations and affinities.
Isabelle | Current
Jacob | Current
Jacob is city planner and tour guide. When he first moved to Paris from the United States, he lived in the 14th arrondissement but moved to the 17th with his husband. He has worked in urban development and taught courses in architecture. Because his husband’s family is from a very traditionally catholic bourgeois background he has learned to be comfortable in very homogenous upper class environments. He is very optimistic about the possible diversification of his neighborhood because of ambitious development plans being made in the more diverse adjacent banlieue, Clichy. As a tour guide he is often in the center city but feels the more affinity for where he lives in the Northwest of the city. Jacob drew one map and it shows that he has very broad trajectories in the west of the city as well as a comfort with the northwest.
Yassine | Current
Yassine is a student and a museum guard. He grew up in Taza, Morocco and moved to Paris for school. He lives in the eastern banlieue, Noisy-le-Grand, with his wife and child. As a practicing Muslim, he talked about the shifts in attitude he feels in the city. He says that when he first moved it was much more tolerant but now he feels more vulnerable. He says he tries to avoid touristy areas because people feel very free to be aggressive there. Even with these shifts he still wants to stay in Paris and is optimistic about the future. Yassine drew one map. In his map you can see that he is very curious about Paris and is never put off by a long commute. He has friends all over the city and knows the transit system extremely well.
Jacqueline | Childhood
Jacqueline is retired. She is the oldest person I interviewed. She grew up in the 17th arrondissement, lived with her family in the 9th for a while and then settled permanently in the 15th. A lot of our interview was about historic events in Paris. She talked about being a teenager during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Since she had curly brown hair she was frequently stopped by the police, because they thought she might be Jewish. She raised her kids during the bombings that happened in the city in 60s, during the war for the liberation of Algeria and the May ’68 riots. She talked about the network of moms who informed one another constantly about the location of their children. Like Françoise she also talked about being vulnerable in public space as an older person. She mentioned places she couldn’t go any more like parks and theaters because she wasn’t sure how to get around as easily as she did before. It would have been interesting to have Jacqueline do three maps since these two maps show her teens and her older age. The nodes of Jacqueline’s childhood map reflect both the typical native childhood map and the restrictions of the Occupation. Interestingly her nodes are more confined now as an elderly adult since she feels vulnerable being far from home especially late at night.
Jacqueline | Current
Jean-Claude | Childhood
Jean-Claude is a professor in urban studies. He was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine and lived in the 16th and 7th arrondissements growing up. Together this region is known as the golden triangle, named for the aristocrats who lived there historically. He now lives in Champs-sur-Marne a far eastern banlieue. Because of his expertise in the field of public housing, Jean-Claude added a lot of historical nuance to the policies that built the Grands Ensembles. But he also told a story that didn’t make it into the podcast. He talked about his discomfort bringing students into the “difficult” neighborhoods that they study and his awareness that the people who live there understand that people in urban planning have pathologized these neighborhoods. As an adult and a planning researcher Jean-Claude moved away from the wealthy neighborhoods of his childhood and spends most of his time in the banlieue. Jean-Claude has a typical confined childhood map. In his second map you can see that he moved from his childhood home to the banlieue and has large nodes of comfort in the east of the city.
Jean-Claude | Current
Jennifer | Childhood
Jennifer is a journalist. She grew up in Fontenay-sous-Bois, an eastern banlieue. She made some very interesting points about mixité, where she opened up the question of diversity to age. She spoke about how valuable it is to have spaces where people of all ages mix to make an older generation more aware of progressive ideas. She also mentions feeling uncomfortable wearing shorts or skirts in places around Paris at night and she talks about her father in particular warning her that people change at night. She also brought up les Halles-Châtelet, not as a scary place but as a place where people from very different walks of life have an opportunity to cross paths. As a child she had friends in many different neighborhoods and as a journalist her work takes her all over the city. Jennifer has clearly explored the city from a young age. Even though she has a very small trajectory in both her maps you can see both that she has feelings about wide range of neighborhoods and that those feelings changed over time.
Jennifer | Current
Léopold | First Arrival
Léopold is a journalist and editor of the architecture magazine The Funambulist. He grew up in Bretagne, the same region as Franck. He demonstrated a real curiosity about the city, having come from a small town. He has worked on a number of projects documenting architecture in the banlieue and Paris, namely the police stations. He rides his bike around the city. He talks about the feeling of disorientation as being a point of vulnerability. He says that taking the subway leaves a huge disconnect in terms of navigation but riding a bike gives you a through line and a clearer idea about the city. The interesting thing about Léopold’s maps are that they both have the same small trajectory, his office and his apartment travel. However, you can also really see how he is exploring from first being a transplant and moving into being a more settled Parisian. His fears and discomforts contract but that also become fine grained, for example the small red dot on his trajectory in his second map is the Gare de Montparnasse. He mentioned many of the discomforts others feel in Les Halles Châtelet, which is interesting because the Gare de Montparnasse and Les Halles Châtelet are reflections of each other. Both are transit hubs/shopping mall developments. But because the Gare de Montparnasse is on Léopold’s way home, it has a special distinction for him.
Léopold | Current
Mawena | First Arrival
Mawena is the founder of the media platform, Black(s) to the Future. She was born in Benin but moved to Orléans at very young age and then later to the United States. She then moved to Paris for school, living first in the 1st arrondissement then moving to the 11th. She talked about all the important historic enclaves in Paris from aristocratic to worker’s enclaves and then expressed her disbelief that city hall would aggressively go after Chateau Rouge as harmful communitarian enclave. She explained its importance as an African hub. She also stressed the importance in understanding the difference between people who “animate” a space and people who live there. She says it’s often true that these two groups are different. Mawena’s discomfort with the western arts of the city stem mostly from their lack of diversity and the feeling of hostility she feels as a black woman there. Again, Mawena’s maps show a typical trend for a new arrival with one key difference. You can see that the territory that she feels comfortable in spreads from one map to the other but the zone of discomfort stays almost exactly the same.
Mawena | Current
Mehdi | Childhood
Mehdi is a professor and a local councilman in the northern banlieue, La Courneuve. He also grew up and still lives in La Courneuve. I met him in La Courneuve and interviewed him in a basement classroom in one of the cités. He is a very involved local politician. A lot of what we talked about in the interview was centered around challenges he was facing organizing in La Courneuve. An interesting thing he said was that Paris has such a central focus that it’s hard to argue for funding to create local atmosphere in the banlieues. Mehdi spends most of his time in La Courneuve but he also organizes and collaborates with other Northeastern banlieues. Mehdi has the map trends of a native who lives off of transit. His maps are very nodal and those nodes are tightly connected to transit lines, especially as an adult.
Mehdi | Current
Nava | First Arrival
Nava is an architect. She grew up in Jerusalem and moved to Paris for school. Her father is French. She talks about being very guarded around her accent and her background. She has two young children. She talks about the challenge of teaching them Hebrew but also maintaining to the outside world that they are a secular family. She gets uncomfortable when she hears her children speaking Hebrew outside of the house. She worries that it will open them to anti-Semitic attacks. Nava’s first map has typical patterns for a student. She lived in the Southern banlieue Ivry but has nodes in the north and by her school school. Her second map is interesting because instead of developing territories, she has corridors. These corridors follow two very important developments in Paris, one being along the canal where she lives in Pantin and the other being bike paths. Since Nava is a bike rider, she avoids places that are unsafe for cyclists, like the western edge of the périphérique.
Nava | Current
Océane | Childhood
She is a student. Océan grew up in Gennevilliers, a northern banlieue. Gennevilliers is considered a “difficult” banlieue but Océan talked about how as a young black girl who was seen to belong, no one ever bothered her. By the same token, she did not hangout in her neighborhood. Instead she would go to the St. Lazare neighborhood, which has a very busy transit connection. Like Jennifer, Océan prefers very diverse neighborhoods. Most of Océane’s life in the city is concentrated around the nodes that she loves the most or has the most to do in. As a child she spent most of her time clustered in the northern banlieues where she grew up. But as a student her nodes develop and spread to Gennevilliers, St. Lazare, and Bercy in the South of the city.
Océane | Current
Samia | Childhood
Samia is a journalist and an archivist. She works on Algerian oral histories. She grew up in Levallois, a northern banlieue and now lives in the 20th arrondissement. She is one of seven children and her parents were Algerian immigrants. Her father was an autoworker at the Citroën factory. She told me that her parents hoped that she and her siblings would go back to Algeria after being educated in Paris and were worried that they would lose their Algerian heritage. Samia decided to stay in Paris but is both a strong advocate of her heritage and of the more disenfranchised banlieues. Samia purposefully spends most of her time in the banlieue. She feels it is her responsibility to know about new programming in public space and support the efforts of those bringing more community amenities to the banlieue. In Samia’s map you see the typical childhood clustering where she grew up in the northwest. Then in the second map her nodes spread in such a way that you could count the north and east as her territory of comfort.
Samia | Current
Shuck One | First Arrival
ShuckOne is a graffiti artist. He is from Point à Pitre in Guadeloupe, an French island department in the Caribbean. He moved to Paris to reunite with his parents who had moved there ahead of him. He has a very interesting view of the subway system in Paris. As a graffiti artist he was often vandalizing the trains and stations and so got a backstage view of Parisian transportation. He sees it as the true city, where you can see a more precise caricature of city residents. In Shuck’s maps you can interpret a corridor because as a teen he would follow the 2 line on the metro to tag trains and that is his trajectory on his first map. In his second map he travels between his studio in an artist’s colony in a southern banlieue but is often in the center city.
Shuck One | Current
Steffi | Childhood
Steffi is a freelance editorial consultant. She was born in Epinay-sur-Seine and now lives in Barbès, a neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. She spoke very openly about dress codes and her experiences with harassment. She is not afraid of public confrontation. She also talked about how conflicted she feels about gentrification. She enjoys the Ménilmontant neighborhood but feels that it’s becoming more and more of wealthy neighborhood. Barbès is a predominantly black neighborhood and while as a black woman she feels comfortable there, she’s not sure whether more diversity in the neighborhood would just mean displacement for current residents. It’s interesting to compare Steffi’s map to her sister Dannii. Unlike her sister, Steffi was not allowed to travel the city much as a young person but even so she still has a smattering of nodes throughout the city. She swiftly learned to avoid the west and feels uncomfortable with its homogeneity. In her second map, she is very much an eastern Parisian and still shies away from the West of the city.