The low point of 2017 was the collapse of an ambitious project to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Foucault’s introduction to heterotopia. The project got caught up in a complex web of professional and legal difficulties and had with great regret to be abandoned.
Highlights included continued explorations of heterotopia by artists, particularly Thierry Fournier’s solo exhibition, ‘Heterotopia’ in Paris at the Saint-Denis musée d’art et d’histoire. Responding to ideas from writers such as Preciado and Harcourt, the exhibition explored heterotopia as a network of interfaces and surfaces which intimately couples people with diverse forms of technology.
Fiona Ackerman’s exhibition ‘Glasslands‘ continued into 2017 transferring from Vancouver to Berlin.
I was happy, in collaboration with artist Karen Browning, to explore further the fascination with mirrors in relation to forms of heterotopia pdf
The year ended with moving from the South West of England to the Isle of Arran in Scotland.
Somewhat in contrast, my research interests have turned to looking at how heterotopia might play in relation the internet and the so called ‘new media’. This I expect will take up a few years of reading, writing and experimenting, branching off all over the place and revisiting themes in a different context (EG the screen as reflection or refraction?). All this takes me back to Benjamin Genocchio’s point that heterotopia may be more an idea about space than an actual place…
Research articles continued to grow and always brought surprises:
Brioni, S. (2017) ‘A Station in Motion: Termini as Heterotopia’ Italian Studies 72 (40) 443-454.
Corbett, C. (2017) ‘Nowhere to run: repetition compulsion and heterotopia in the Australian post-apocalypse’, Science Fiction Film and Television 10 (3): 329–351.
De Schauwer, E. et al (2017) ‘Animating Disability Differently- Mobilizing a Heterotopian Imagination,’ Qualitative Inquiry 23 (4): 276-286.
Edwards, G. and Bulkeley, H. (2017) ‘Heterotopia and the urban politics of climate change experimentation’. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. (In Press)
Giusti, E. (2017) ‘Virgil’s Carthage: a Heterotopic Space of Empire’ in M. Asper and V. Rimell (eds.) Imagining Imperial Space in Hellenistic and Roman Literature, Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg.
Grant-Smith, D. and Mayes, R. (2017) ‘Freedom, part-time pirates, and poo police: Regulating the heterotopic space of the recreational boat’ Environment and Planning A 49 (6): 1379-1395.
Honig, T. J. (2017) ‘Heterotopia: A tool for understanding therapeutic space’ Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 26 (1).
Ismail, H. H. et al (2017) ‘Heterotopias and the Enabling of Masculine Power in Richardson’s Pamela and Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Roxana’ Journal of Language Studies 17(1), February
Kjaran, J. I. (2017) ‘Ethical Relationality and Heterotopic Spaces in Schools’ in J. I. Kjaran (ed.) Constructing Sexualities and Gendered Bodies in School Spaces. London: Palgrave 147-175.
Loyauté, B., Sfez, G. and Dassié, V. (2017) Heterotopia, Affordance & New Pragmatism. Paris: Dilecta.
Maggini, G. (2017) ‘Digital Virtual Places: Utopias, Atopias, Heterotopias’ in Janz, B. (ed.) Place, Space and Hermeneutics. Berlin: Springer International. 465-477.
Qian, J. (2017) ‘Beyond heteronormativity? Gay cruising, closeted experiences and self-disciplining subject in People’s Park, Guangzhou’. Urban Geography, 38 (5): 771–794.
Quinn, B. and Wilks, L, (2017) Festival heterotopias: spatial and temporal transformations in two small-scale settlements. Journal of Rural Studies, 53: 35–44.
Rankin, J. and Collins, F. (2017) ‘Enclosing difference and disruption: assemblage, heterotopia and the cruise ship, Social and Cultural Geography 18 (2) 224-244.
18 December 2017
I have been asked whether Facebook can be described as a heterotopia. Here are good places to start:
Dawkins, R. (2017) ‘Tools for jimmying experience: conceptual speed dating on Facebook’, First Monday 22 (11) http://uncommonculture.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/7746/6564
Hope, A. (2016) ‘Educational heterotopia and students’ use of Facebook’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32 (1): 47–58 https://ajet.org.au/index.php/AJET/article/view/2209,
Rymarczuk, R. and Derksen, M. (2014) ‘Different spaces: Exploring Facebook as heterotopia’, First Monday 19 (6) http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5006/4091
13 November 2017
This is my initial reading list to start thinking about how heterotopia might play in the world of ‘new media/technologies’. A mixed bag which will spin off in many, hopefully unexpected, directions. Any thoughts, suggestions most welcome!
Bolter, J and Grusin, R. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media, London: MIT Press.
Galloway, A. R. (2012) The Interface Effect. New York: Polity Press.
Levy, P. (2001) Cyberculture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Manovich, L. (2002) The Language of New Media. New York: MIT Press
Serres, M. (2014) Thumbelina: The Culture and Technology of Millennials. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Siegart, B (2015) Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors and Other Articulations of the Real. New York: Fordham University Press.
Zielinski, S. (2006) Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means. London: MIT Press.
Whilst always referring back to Benjamin, Heidegger…..
3 November 2017
Heterotopias hosts studies and visual essays that dissect spaces of play, exploration, violence and ideology. The project focuses on the spaces and architecture of virtual worlds. The zine releases quarterly – 2 issues so far.
Peter 21 April 2017
I have completed updates of on-going bibliographies which are now divided into three pdf versions:
1 General – lists a range of diverse literature (nearly 300 journal articles, books etc.) that responds to Foucault’s concept General (Jan 2017)
2 Topic – lists above under topics and themes (see below) Topic (Jan 2017)
3 Foucault – lists key texts by Foucault related to heterotopia, space and visual art (with some annotated) Foucault (Jan 2017)
Please let me know of any errors or additions – email@example.com
1 Towards an overall theory of, or approach to, heterotopia
2 Art and Architecture
3 Communication, Film and Media Studies
4 Death Studies
5 Digital and Cyberspace Studies
6 Education and Health Studies
7 Gender, Sexuality and Queer Studies
9 Marketing and Tourism
10 Museum and Library Studies
11 Political and Economic Geography
12 Urban Studies
14 Theatre, Performance, Music
15 Miscellaneous Places and Spaces
25 January 2017
Today I release updated general bibliography on heterotopia with nearly 300 items.
The list includes ones I’d previously missed and the following from 2016:
Beckett, A. E., Bagguley, P. and Campbell, T. (2016) ‘Foucault, social movements and heterotopic horizons: rupturing the order of things’, Social Movement Studies, Published online: 02 Nov 2016
Hope, A. (2016) ‘Educational heterotopia and students’ use of Facebook’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32 (1).
Johnson, C. (2016) ‘District heating as heterotopia: Tracing the social contract through domestic energy infrastructure in Pimlico’, Economic Anthropology 3 (1) 94-105.
Knight, K. (2016) ‘Placeless places: resolving the paradox of Foucault’s heterotopia’, Textual Practice, Taylor Francis online, April 2016.
Leer, J. and Kiligaard Povisen, K. (Eds.) (2016) Food and Media: Practices, Distinctions and Heterotopias. London: Routledge.
Pechtelidis, Y. (2016) ‘Youth Heterotopias in Precarious Times. The Students Autonomous Collectivity’, Young, 24 (1) 1-16.
Quinn, B. and Wilks, L. (2016) ‘Linking social capital, cultural capital and heterotopia at the folk festival’, Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology 7 (1) 23-39
Rankin, J. and Collins, F. (2016) ‘Enclosing difference and disruption: assemblage, heterotopia and the cruise ship, Social and Cultural Geography, published online April 2016.
Sandberg, F., Fejas, A., Dahlstedt, M. and Olson, M (2016) ‘Adult Education as a Heterotopia of Deviation: A Dwelling for the Abnormal Citizen’, Adult Education Quarterly 66 (2) 103-119.
Sievers, S. M. M. (2016) ‘Fragile heterotopias – a case study of a Danish social enterprise’, Community Development Journal, 51 (1): 77-94.
Sleigh, Charlotte (2016) Science as heterotopia: The British interplanetary Society before WWII. In: Scientific Governance in Britain, 1914-79. Manchester University Press. (In press)
Stranger, A. (2016) Heterotopia as Choreography- Foucault’s sailing vessel’ Performance research Taylor Francis on-line, June 2016.
Xiaofan, A. L. (2016) The Abject Heterotopia: Le Città Invisibili and ‘Junkspace’’ Modern Language Studies 52 (1): 70-80.
Zerva, K. and Nijkamp, P. (2016) ‘Tour guides as information filters in urban heterotopias: Evidence from the Amsterdam Red Light District’ Tourism Management Perspectives 18: 42-50.
As always, let me know of any corrections and additions. The updated bibliography under topic headings will be out soon.
16 January 2017
For our ‘50 years on‘ anniversary celebrations, it’s great to hear of new departures. Schooltree’s original rock opera, Heterotopia, is about ‘a girl who loses her body and must journey as a ghost through a parallel world of the collective unconscious to get it back’. Both ‘urban folklore and metaphysical fairy tale’, Heterotopia was developed over several years and recorded as a double album to be released early this year..
6 January 2017
As far as I know, the radio broadcast ‘Le corps utopique‘ is not available in English as yet. Here is my synopsis of the broadcast.
Utopian Topology of the Body
Overview: Foucault provides reflections on both sacred and secular forms of utopia that often seek to escape the limitations and constraints of the human body but actually stem from, enrich and transpose the body in a variety of marvellous ways.
The body: a pitiless place: He starts with Proust and the opening of Swann’s Way where the narrator keeps waking up from sleep to find he is always trapped in his body. He can move with his body but can never leave it. Foucault concludes from this perspective that the body, a ‘pitiless place’, is the ‘opposite of a utopia’. The body is never anywhere else and we are all condemned to remain with its burden.
Utopias against the body: Utopias, on the other hand, work against the constraints of the body, sites imagined outside all sense of conventional notions of place He mentions the escapades in magical stories and fairy-tales and also provides the contrasting example of the cemetery, the tombs and monuments encapsulating through the dead something that outlasts the body, timeless and perpetual. But it is in the various ‘myths of the soul’ that he finds the ultimate utopian desire to disappear from the body, surviving freely and serenely forever.
The utopias of the body: But this is just one perspective of the body and Foucault quickly turns to the body’s ‘own fantastic reserves’. He asserts that the body has its special ‘placeless places’ that are even more profound than magical tales, tombs or the myths of the soul: ‘the body incomprehensible, penetrable, opaque, open and closed, the utopian body’. The body is visible, for example, through others and through looking in a mirror, but also strangely invisible, thoroughly traversed with excitement and desires and, for Foucault, the origin and model of our utopian imagination.
Dressing the body: Foucault also suggests that the human body becomes a ‘utopian actor’ through adorning itself with masks, make-up and tattoos which ‘place the body into another space’, making it a ‘fragment of imaginary space’. And also clothing and uniforms, both sacred and profane, allow the body to be displaced, to live its own fantasies, to be immersed in other worlds and utopian rituals.
The body always somewhere else: So Foucault completely reverses his opening observations. The body is actually ‘always elsewhere’, a placeless site that is forever travelling through, and to, different spaces, with the tremendous power to imagine and realise utopias.
The mirror and the corpse: Foucault concludes his talk by observing that children only start to recognise that they have bodies after a year or so through recognising themselves in a mirror (a stage of development claimed by Lacan). Moreover, he notes that Homer’s Greeks had no word for body except to recognise a corpse. He proposes that the mirror and the corpse perhaps tame and enclose the utopian impulses of the body, but then again, he teases, the mirror and the corpse are both inaccessible spaces in themselves and forever ‘elsewhere’.
Making love: His final thought suggests that it is perhaps in love making – frequently associated with death and the illusion of the mirror – that the body is enclosed and at rest from utopian impulses. In making love, all the invisible parts of the body ‘start to exist’ and we can discover at last the ‘body is here’.
Foucault, M. (2009)  Le Corps Utopique – Les Hétérotopies. Clamecy: Éditions Lignes.
7 December 2016
Have been through a difficult period recently, so good to reflect on some of the great responses to this site so far:
- eliz says: hi, so happy to find this site, I’m following your site for about 4 months. I am PhD student in fine arts…..
- skateboarder says: hey there, really interesting site, helped me a lot to get what are heterotopias really about.
- Cláudia says I am delighted with the site that I have just discovered. I am a researcher at the University of Fortaleza in Brazil ……What I have seen here on the site are precious information and will soon be offering what I’m writing about it. I hope to exchange many ideas .
- Davies says: Hi Peter, Great site, thank you! I am currently writing my dissertation about play worlds and the importance of play. ..
- Wislaine says: hello, I’m glad to find this site, I’m from Brazil and researching cemeteries…..
- Krista says: So happy to find this web site!
- Damian R says: What a wonderful site! Thank you Peter.
- Maida says: Hi Peter, Your blog got me very interested in the concept of heterotopia.
- Ana Grynbaum says: Dear Peter, Thank-you for the so interesting and delightful site you are developing. It was really useful for me to think about what I call erotopia….
- Michael says Hi, I just published an article about heterotopia, cultural activism and space in Hamburg, Germany. Since this website helped me so much, I included a little shoutout within the paper. Thanks again for all your hard work on this blog Peter…
- Chady says: Hello there …. Thank you peter for this amazing website. I am currently studying the relation between Heterotopia and Prisons……
- George B says Hi Peter, Thank you for your detailed responses to my questions – they are very helpful. The phrase ‘worlds within worlds’ that you used resonated particularly well; it will become my root definition of the term and inform my usage of it in the future.
- Judy says: Hey Peter, I came across your site by accident and i have been greatly inspired by your thoughts and the resources you have provided
- Late utopian says: Just found your really interesting website. I am currently constructing a sail for my Foundation a Studies Utopian project-
- Mantas says: Hi, I am glad I came across with this website! I am currently studying architecture
- Brian F says: Hallelujah. I have been attempting to deconstruct this concept for quite some time now… on my own, as it were.
- tacey W. says: My profound gratitude to you, Peter, for putting together this wonderful forum…it has proved to be an invaluable tool in assisting my PhD research. Thank you.
- Russell says: Nice to find a ‘different space’ on the web to enjoy.
13 September 2016
Today, I launch two new pages on the web-site concerned with (1) building up a resource of artists inspired by the concept of heterotopia and (2) developing ideas on Foucault’s response to visual art (my current area of research). Please let me know of any links that you think I should include.
NB the banner image for the new pages is from a photograph I took recently of a second-hand shop in Brussels. It seemed to capture mirrors, Magritte and madness!
22 June 2015
A wonderful bewildering virtual site attempting to generate Jorge Luis Borges’ infinite library.
“The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence – in short, it’s just like any other library. If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters………..
7 May 2015
Some highlights of the year in film, art, music and words:
Yougofirst collective’s film of amazing snow-boarding feats and much more in: ‘heterotopia’.
Heterotopian inspired exhibition at Röda Sten Konsthall in Gothenburg: by one of Sweden’s most renowned contemporary artists, Ylva Ogland: ‘ Diverse Variations of Other Spaces’.
And yet more diverse interpretations and applications, including:
Fernald, A. E. (2014) ‘Taxi! The Modern Taxicab as Feminist Heterotopia’, Modernist Cultures. 9 (2) 213-232
Puric, B. (2014) ‘Matka, a heterotopia of deviation’. Short Film Studies 4 (1) 43-46
Rymarczuk, R. and Derksen, M. (2014) ‘Different spaces: Exploring Facebook as heterotopia’, First Monday 19 (6) [http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5006/4091#author – accessed 10 June 2014]
Larsson, H., Quennerstedt, M., Öhman, M. (2014) ‘Heterotopias in physical education: towards a queer pedagogy?’ Gender and Education 26 (2)
Smith, E. C. (2014) ‘Foucault’s Heterotopia in Christian Catacombs: Constructing Spaces and Symbols in Ancient Rome’. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Erdem, E. (2014) ‘Reading Foucault with Gibson-Graham: The Political Economy of “Other Spaces” in Berlin’. Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society 26 (1)
Cooper, D. (2014) Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces. London: Duke University Press
18 December 2014
On-line lecture by Anthony Vidler: Troubles in Heterotopia – Occupied Spaces: New York and Istanbul to the ‘68 Revolution [12/2/2014]
‘Occupation politics, while new in the current neoliberal economic regime, has long been a staple of political action. The lecture will consider the political practice and theory of ‘occupation’ since 1968, and review its effects with reference to the spatial, political and theoretical activism of Foucault, Deleuze, Lefebvre, Althusser, Badiou, Balibar (the theorists of ‘68), with respect to the temporal theories of traditional Marxism’.
My A-Z, available as pdf A to Z
The A-Z of heterotopias
A is for asylums and Alice’s mirror
B is for boarding schools and brothels
C is for cemeteries and castles in the air
D is for digital cities and dividing practices
E is for escape dens and endless encyclopaedias
F is for fairs and ‘that from a long way off look like flies’
G is for garden retreats and gay bath houses
H is for honeymoon hotels and hospitals
I is for ideal prisons and idyllic Sidi Bou Said[i]
J is for Jesuit colonies and journeys to different spaces
K is for kaleidoscopes and kite festivals
L is for libraries and LPUs (local pirate utopias)
M is for Magritte’s and Manet’s mirrors
N is for nudist beaches and Neverland
O is for oases and Occupy’s emplacements
P is for playgrounds and placeless places
Q is for quixotic windmills and quotidian quirkiness
R is for Rousselian rebuses[ii] and reservoirs for the imagination
S is for sailing vessels and Scandinavian saunas
T is for theatres and time travellers
U is for utopic pedagogies and utopian debris
V is for vacation fantasy villages and vanishing heterotopias
W is for wonderland and the woods in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream
X is for X-linked periventricular traces[iii] and Xbox ecologies
Y is for young offenders’ institutions and YouTube selfies
Z is for zoological parks and zones of the oppressed
[i] Foucault was attracted to the work of the avant-garde writer Raymond Roussel and his intricate, playful games with words and images.
[ii] Foucault was staying in the coastal village of Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia at the time of inventing the notion of heterotopia (1966-67).
[iii] Heterotopia is also a clinical term. X-linked periventricular heterotopia is a neuronal migration disorder, characterised by the presence of uncalcified nodules of neurons ectopically situated along the surface of the lateral ventricles.
27 August 2014