Participant Info

First Name
Elsa
Last Name
Devienne
Affiliation
University Paris Nanterre
Website URL
https://www.parisnanterre.fr/mme-elsa-devienne--699996.kjsp
Keywords
Environment, California, Los Angeles, city, beach, coast, leisure, race, gender, sexuality, body, erosion, public space, muscles, bodybuilding, urban renewal, Santa Monica, Venice
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

Photo
About Me

I am an historian of the 20th-century US with particular interests in the history of the environment, Los Angeles/California, and the history of the body (fitness, sports, muscularity), gender, and sexuality.

My book project, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Shoreline,” traces the transformation of Los Angeles’s beaches in the twentieth century from relatively untouched natural spaces into artificial playgrounds for the wealthy. More specifically, the project sheds light on how a Los Angeles-based “beach lobby” made up of businessmen, city officials and engineers combined planning, policing and environmental strategies to prevent a “white flight” from the coast, thereby destroying the traditional leisure spaces of African-American, working-class, and gay Angelenos. By fully integrating environmental and social history the manuscript not only uncovers how L.A.’s beaches were quite literally constructed but also how this major engineering project affected the lives of ordinary city-dwellers and their relationship to nature.

Recent Publications

“The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Muscle Beach: Reassessing the Muscular Physique in Postwar America (1940s-1980s),” Southern California Quarterly, 100, no. 3 (August 2018): 324-367

“Invisible Lines in the Sand: LA’s Ban on Bathing Suits in the 1910s”Metropolitics, 13 July 2018.

Urban Renewal by the Sea: Reinventing the Beach for the Suburban Age in Postwar Los Angeles,” The Journal of Urban History, Published Online First on March 29, 2018.

Shifting Sands:
A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Beaches, 1920s-1970s,” California History,  vol. 93, no2, Summer 2016, p. 61-63

“The Right to the Beach? Urban Renewal, Public Place Policing, and the Definition of a Beach Public in Postwar Los Angeles, 1940s-1960s,” Revue française d’études américaines, 148 (2016-3): 31-51

 

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
North America, United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Environment, Gender, Local & Regional, Race, Sexuality, Urban History