IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Heterotopia and structuralism

Listed author(s):
  • Arun Saldanha
Registered author(s):

    The concept of heterotopia was introduced and immediately abandoned by Michel Foucault in 1966 – 67, but it quickly diffused across human geography, urban theory, and cultural studies during the 1990s. Notwithstanding the deserved impact of Foucault’s overall work on these fields, there are some conceptual problems with the heterotopia concept. While the desire for a single term to probe spatial difference is understandable, the author takes issue with the kind of space envisioned in heterotopology. From a close reading of Foucault’s notes, and with the help of Deleuze, Derrida, and Althusser, it is suggested that the spatiality of Foucault’s heterotopology repeats certain flaws of the structuralism in vogue in 1960s France. In order for heterotopias to be ‘absolutely different’ from ‘all the rest’ of space, Foucault needs to posit a totality to society and to perform a ‘slice of time’. The author ends by briefly examining how the structuralist tendency of heterotopology has pervaded some recent Anglophone adoptions of Foucault. As both geography and postcolonial theory have shown, slicing time often conceals particularist suppositions and is therefore inadequate to account for the multiplicity and unevenness of geographical change.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning A.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 2080-2096

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:40:y:2008:i:9:p:2080-2096
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:40:y:2008:i:9:p:2080-2096. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.