heterotopias | foucault

heterotopias | foucault

‘the boat is the perfect example of a heterotopia, it is a floating piece of space not fixed to any other space except the affinity of the sea'. (Foucault)

What are heterotopias? I stumbled across this in my research days for my dissertation. I found it really interesting. Michel Foucault was a French Philosopher who first discussed the concept of heterotopias in 1962 in a radio interview and subsequently in a lecture in 1967. 

Foucault described heterotopic spaces as the ‘other space’; they are linked to reality and at the same time exist in their own reality. Heterotopias are not separate from society, they are distinct emplacements that are embedded in all cultures that mirror, distort and react to the remaining space. Examples of these ‘other’ spaces are nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, boarding schools, brothels, cemeteries, gardens, libraries, fairgrounds and festivals. They are historically localised and mutate at different periods. 

Rather than being static, Foucault’s account seems to celebrate the discontinuity and changeability of existence. This is also representative of the fairy tale and the fairy tale film, each retelling embedded within the culture that it represents, mirroring, reacting, distorting and recontextualising new modes of perception.





Foucault, Michel. Translated by Jay Miskowiec. Des Spaces Autres, March 1967. Of Other Spaces.