July 30, 2021 |
CC BY 4.0
Michel Foucault's concept of heterotopia, as developed in his short text Of Other Spaces, has triggered broad reception in the social sciences and humanities, especially in the context of the "spatial turn," with the consequence of increasing conceptual fuzziness. This conceptual fuzziness, I argue, has its roots in its inaccurate reception rather than in the sketchy character of Foucault's original text. Putting the concept of heterotopia in the larger context of Foucault's writings, it can be shown that heterotopias are not privileged sites of primeval freedom; rather, they are sites of different power structures, marking the impossibility of an absolute unity of society. In contrast, Edward Soja's concept of thirdspace, which is seen by Soja as equivalent to the concept of heterotopia, reproduces the very spatial regime it sets out to criticize, only flipping the hierarchical positions of "normal" and "other" spaces upside down.
Guido Seywald: "Foucaults Heterotopien, gegen Edward Sojas Rezeption verteidigt," in: Le foucaldien, 7/1 (2021), DOI: 10.16995/lefou.97