Re: [Foucault-L] Other spaces

Hello Åsa,

"I am confused as to whether heterotopia consitutes or facilitates the construction of other spaces."

I think this might be a false choice because in some sense heterotopias do both of these things.

Heterotopias are spaces that always function in a relationship to the usual spaces we are familiar with and take for granted. Their function is a disturbing one that 'others' our everyday sense of things. The mirror is exemplary insofar as it can only function in relation to that which it reflects, that is, the very space you're occupying when you look into it. The effect it produces is something uncanny, opening up the possibility for critically re-engaging what was once familiar. It's not unlike what happens in the Preface to The Order of Things where Foucault considers Borges' 'Chinese encyclopedia'. In relation to our everyday thought, the Chinese encyclopedia functions as a heterotopia because it has the power to render our knowledge uncanny.

I think it's also worth mentioning that the second feature Foucault describes is that heterotopias can become other to themselves as they change over time. And the fourth feature is that they can be associated with temporal breaks and discontinuities (decoupages du temps), opening up onto heterochronias. So, again, heterotopias are both 'other' and 'othering'.

I hope that helps.


Dr. Trent H. Hamann
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
St. John's University
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439

On Nov 22, 2007, at 5:09 PM, Åsa Rosenberg wrote:

I'm reading the "Of Other Spaces" article plus some interpretations of
Foucaults heterotopia and while I might be able to figure this out in time
by myself... I thought it would be interesting to hear what you guys think.

I am confused as to whether heterotopia consitutes or facilitates the
construction of other spaces. When he talks about the mirror, it seems that
the mirror is heterotopia which makes possible the "other space" (the site
of simultaneous reflection and contestation).

"The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place
that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once
absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and
absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through
this virtual point which is over there."

But then in most other examples it seems that heterotopia IS the actual
other space. (This is also how i see other people using the term,
heterotopia _as_ other space).



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