Heterotopiamania: Spaces of Crisis Heterotopia, Non-Normativity, & Counter-Surveillance
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Readers/AdvisorsHaskins, Casey R.
Term and YearSpring 2020
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractIn Michel Foucault’s essay Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias, Foucault makes a distinction between “crisis heterotopias”— those “privileged or sacred or forbidden places, reserved for individuals who are, in relation to society and to the human environment in which they live, in a state of crisis,” and “heterotopias of deviation: those in which individuals whose behavior is deviant in relation to the required mean or norm are placed“. Subjects of both heterotopias belong ‘elsewhere,’ with the subjects within ‘heterotopias of deviation’ being a space of non-normativity to be kept at bay, confined, from the so called ‘normative’ society. It is deviant heterotopias that Foucault says constitute modern life, with those of crisis becoming less prevalent within a surveillance state that actively works to confine, rather than appraise and privilege, non-normativity. Where are these spaces of deviant Heterotopia in our modern society? And what role do they play for non-normative subjects: are they places of confinement, or solace? Furthermore, where have ‘crisis heterotopias’ gone, and by what instruments of power have they disappeared? In this piece, I will first offer a genealogy of how ‘crisis heterotopias’ have disappeared: for what reasons, by what instruments of power, and through what material institutions? This analysis will provide insight into what space ‘deviant heterotopias’ take in our modern society, and how they are places of both confinement and oppression. I will do this through an engagement with the work of Max Weber— particulate his diagnosis of both the Protestant work ethic, its relation to the formation of capitalism, and the iron cage of modernity. In the second third of my project, I will contextualize Foucault’s account of deviant and crisis heterotopias within a broader range of critical theory. I will draw comparisons between Foucault’s appraisal of a ‘crisis heteotopia’ and Nancy Frasier’s account of a “Subaltern counter-public”— both comparing and expanding upon Foucault’s notion of heterotopia. In comparing the two, I will gage the strengths and weaknesses of each account. Doing this will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the spaces non-normative subjects inhabit. Lastly, I will gage why ‘crisis heterotopias’ and counterpublics are particularly suited to subverting, and escaping from, normativity.