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Foucault of other spaces

“Des Espaces Autres” (Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias)

Publisher

Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, no. 5 (October 1984): 46–49; translated by Jay Miskowiec in Diacritics 16, no. 1 (Spring, 1986): 22–27.

Language

French, English

In this essay, Foucault rescues space from the void, describing it as an active and heterogeneous medium. He introduces the curious idea of the heterotopia—a counter-space that exists outside the usual order of things as a “simultaneously mythic and real contestation of the space in which we live.” Offering examples that range from prisons to temporary fairgrounds, holiday villages to ships at sea, he suggests that the heterotopia serves to compensate for or expose the shortcomings of “real space.” Enigmatic in its implications—interpreted both as a rebellious suggestion and, alternately, as a disciplinary strategy—Foucault’s essay provides richly evocative ideas for the imaginative tactics of contemporary urban interventions.