Social movements and heterotopic horizons

Recent publication:

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


In this article, we explore and develop the utility for social movement studies of Michel Foucault’s conceptualization of heterotopia. Informed by Foucault’s theorizing, we propose a heuristic typology of social movement heterotopias. Five heterotopia ‘types’ are considered: ‘contained’, ‘mobile’, ‘cloud’, ‘encounter’ and ‘rhizomic’. Each has particular attributes, but all challenge normal, routine politics. They do so by being, from the perspective of state and capital, either in the ‘wrong’ place, moving in the ‘wrong’ way, or involving the ‘wrong’ connections, affinities or organization. These are constructed-types, proposed for the purpose of description, comparison and prediction. These social movement heterotopias are different types of space that facilitate practices of resistance and transgression. We situate Foucault’s writing on heterotopia at a pivotal moment in his intellectual career, when he became increasingly concerned with how particular mechanisms for modulating the creative force of resistance/power are invented, the types of bodies they craft and the politics they make possible. We propose an interpretation of heterotopia that relates it to his later work on power, resistance and freedom, and the interplay of his ideas with those of Gilles Deleuze.


20 December 2016