27 June 2012
Lefebvre (1991: 4) asserts that ‘Foucault never explains what space it is that he is referring to’. Thrift (2007: 55) considers that Foucault’s conception and use of space is limited and he ‘tended to think of space in terms of orders’. Being blind to ‘space’s aliveness’, Foucault could not ‘imagine how different contents can inhabit the same space’ and misses out many of the most vital ingredients of the world’ (56).
I want to question these assertions by going back to Foucault’s earliest studies, starting with his history of madness, and trace Foucault’s different uses of, and approaches to, space. Over the next few weeks, I want to argue that Foucault’s use of space, particularly in his early projects, is strategic. On one important level, this is how heterotopia can be conceived: a concentrated if playful display of the advantages of space as a tool of analysis.
For Foucault, space thoroughly undermines established time-based historical and philosophical reflections and opens up new, heterogeneous connections.
Lefebvre, H. (1991) The Production of Space, translated D. Nicholson-Smith, Oxford: Blackwell.
Thrift, N. (2007) ‘Overcome by Space: Reworking Foucault’ in J. W. Crampton and S. Elden (eds.), Space, Knowledge and Power, Aldershot: Ashgate, 53-58.