‘There are also, and probably in every culture, in every civilisation, real places, actual places, places that are designed into the very institution of society, which are sorts of actually realised utopia….’
In the essay below, I provide some thoughts on the similarities and differences between the two contested concepts of heterotopia and utopia. In terms of utopia, I briefly outline broad Blochian approaches to the utopian qualities of cultural productions as developed by Levitas. I go on to discuss Lefebvre’s concept of ‘heterotopy’ and Jameson’s work on utopianism, also influenced by Bloch. Finally, using Harvey’s work on ‘dialectical utopianism’, I argue that heterotopia is not anti-utopian, but provides a sideways analysis of existing material spaces in order not to anticipate the future, but to reflect upon and disturb the present.
1. Some literature that looks at links between heterotopia and utopia:
Allo, K. and Piliang, Y. A. (2010) ‘Utopia, Heterotopia, and Mediatopia: Rethinking Foucault and Performativity in Krisna Murti’s Video Artworks’, Melintas, 26 (1) 53-62.
Coleman, N. (2012) ‘Utopic Pedagogies: Alternatives to Degenerate Architecture’ Utopian Studies.23 (2) 314-35.
Couton, P (2009) ‘Movement as Utopia’ History of Human Sciences. 22:4 93-121.
Decock, S. (2011) “The Loving Conquest and Embrace”: On Peaceful Heterotopias and Utopias in Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s Asian and African Travel Writings. Women in German Yearbook 27 109-130
Duran, J. (2000) ‘Utopia, Heterotopia, and Memory in Carmen Boullosa’s Cielos De La Tierra’ Studies in Literary Imagination. 33:1 51
Fischer-Lichte, E. and Wihstutz, B. (eds.) (2012) ‘Utopia and Heterotopia’ (5 essays) in Performance and the Politics of Space: Theatre and Topology. London: Routledge Advances in Theatre and Performance Studies, 129-218.
Ivakhiy, A. (2011) ‘Cinema of the Not-Yet: The Utopia Promise of Film as Heterotopia’ Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture 5 (2).
Levitas, R. (2003) ‘Utopia Here and Now’ in S. Meyer (ed.) Midlertidige Utopier [Temporary Utopia] Oslo: Museum of Contemporary Art, 142-148.
Lvakhiv, A. (2011) ‘Cinema of the Not-Yet: The Utopian Promise of Film as Heterotopia’. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture 5 (2) 186-209.
Maggini, G. (2017) ‘Digital Virtual Places: Utopias, Atopias, Heterotopias’ in Janz, B. (ed.) Place, Space and Hermeneutics. Berlin: Springer International. 465-477.
Mao, Wei-qiang. (2009) ‘Heterotopia as an alternative to Utopia – the narrative space in The Glass Mountain’ US-China Foreign Language. 7: 10 61-64
Meyer, S. (2003) Midlertidige Utopier [Temporary Utopia] Oslo: Museum of Contemporary Art.
Morgan, D. (2014) ‘”The Floating Asylum”, The Armée du salut and Le Corbusier: A Modernist Heterotopian/Utopian Project’, Utopian Studies 25 (1) 87-124
Nigam, A. (2010) ‘The Heterotopias of Dalit Politics: Becoming-Subject and the Consumption Utopia’ in Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility. Eds. D. Gordin, H. Tilley, and G. Prakash. Princeton: Princeton, University Press 250-276.
Otto, M. (2005) ‘The other Side of the Mirror: Utopian and Heterotopia space in Kamau Brathwaite’s “Dream Stories” Utopian Studies 16 (1) 27-44.
Somay, B. and R. M. P. (1984) ‘Open-ended Utopia (Vers une utopi ouverte)’, Science Fiction Studies 11 (1) 25-38.
Turner, C. (2015) Dramaturgy and Architecture: Theatre, Utopia and the Built Environment, London, Palgrave Macmillan.
Willke, H. (2003) Heterotopia. Studien zur Krisis der Ordnung moderner Gesellschaften. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. (part of a series of three books: Atopia (2001), Dystopia (2002), Heterotopia (2003).
2. Images of utopia/heterotopia
revised July 2018