Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias

This text, en­ti­tled Des Espace Autres,” and pub­lished by the French jour­nal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité in October, 1984, was the ba­sis of a lec­ture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967. Although not re­viewed for pub­li­ca­tion by the au­thor and thus not part of the of­fi­cial cor­pus of his work, the man­u­script was re­leased into the pub­lic do­main for an ex­hi­bi­tion in Berlin shortly be­fore Michel Foucault’s death.
Translated from the French by Jay Miskowiec.
— Foucault, Michel. Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias.” Translated from Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité no. 5 (1984): 46-49.

The great ob­ses­sion of the nine­teenth cen­tury was, as we know, his­tory: with its themes of de­vel­op­ment and of sus­pen­sion, of cri­sis, and cy­cle, themes of the ever-ac­cu­mu­lat­ing past, with its great pre­pon­der­ance of dead men and the men­ac­ing glacia­tion of the world. The nine­teenth cen­tury found its es­sen­tial mytho­log­i­cal re­sources in the sec­ond prin­ci­ple of thermal­dy­nam­ics. The pre­sent epoch will per­haps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of si­mul­tane­ity: we are in the epoch of jux­ta­po­si­tion, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dis­persed. We are at a mo­ment. I be­lieve, when our ex­pe­ri­ence of the world is less that of a long life de­vel­op­ing through time than that of a net­work that con­nects points and in­ter­sects with its own skein. One could per­haps say that cer­tain ide­o­log­i­cal con­flicts an­i­mat­ing pre­sent-day polemics op­pose the pi­ous de­scen­dents of time and the de­ter­mined in­hab­i­tants of space. Structuralism, or at least which is grouped un­der this slightly too gen­eral name, is the ef­fort to es­tab­lish, be­tween el­e­ments that could have been con­nected on a tem­po­ral axis, an en­sem­ble of re­la­tions that makes them ap­pear as jux­ta­posed, set off against one an­other, im­pli­cated by each other—that makes them ap­pear, in short, as a sort of con­fig­u­ra­tion. Actually, struc­tural­ism does not en­tail de­nial of time; it does in­volve a cer­tain man­ner of deal­ing with what we call time and what we call his­tory.

Yet it is nec­es­sary to no­tice that the space which to­day ap­pears to form the hori­zon of our con­cerns, our the­ory, our sys­tems, is not an in­no­va­tion; space it­self has a his­tory in Western ex­pe­ri­ence, and it is not pos­si­ble to dis­re­gard the fa­tal in­ter­sec­tion of time with space. One could say, by way of re­trac­ing this his­tory of space very roughly, that in the Middle Ages there was a hi­er­ar­chic en­sem­ble of places: sa­cred places and pro­fane plates: pro­tected places and open, ex­posed places: ur­ban places and rural places (all these con­cern the real life of men). In cos­mo­log­i­cal the­ory, there were the su­perce­les­tial places as op­posed to the ce­les­tial, and the ce­les­tial place was in its turn op­posed to the ter­res­trial place. There were places where things had been put be­cause they had been vi­o­lently dis­placed, and then on the con­trary places where things found their nat­ural ground and sta­bil­ity. It was this com­plete hi­er­ar­chy, this op­po­si­tion, this in­ter­sec­tion of places that con­sti­tuted what could very roughly be called me­dieval space: the space of em­place­ment.

This space of em­place­ment was opened up by Galileo. For the real scan­dal of Galileo’s work lay not so much in his dis­cov­ery, or re­dis­cov­ery, that the earth re­volved around the sun, but in his con­sti­tu­tion of an in­fi­nite, and in­fi­nitely open space. In such a space the place of the Middle Ages turned out to be dis­solved. as it were; a thing’s place was no longer any­thing but a point in its move­ment, just as the sta­bil­ity of a thing was only its move­ment in­def­i­nitely slowed down. In other words, start­ing with Galileo and the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, ex­ten­sion was sub­sti­tuted for lo­cal­iza­tion.

Today the site has been sub­sti­tuted for ex­ten­sion which it­self had re­placed em­place­ment. The site is de­fined by re­la­tions of prox­im­ity be­tween points or el­e­ments; for­mally, we can de­scribe these re­la­tions as se­ries, trees, or grids. Moreover, the im­por­tance of the site as a prob­lem in con­tem­po­rary tech­ni­cal work is well known: the stor­age of data or of the in­ter­me­di­ate re­sults of a cal­cu­la­tion in the mem­ory of a ma­chine, the cir­cu­la­tion of dis­crete el­e­ments with a ran­dom out­put (automobile traf­fic is a sim­ple case, or in­deed the sounds on a tele­phone line); the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of marked or coded el­e­ments in­side a set that may be ran­domly dis­trib­uted, or may be arranged ac­cord­ing to sin­gle or to mul­ti­ple clas­si­fi­ca­tions.

In a still more con­crete man­ner, the prob­lem of sit­ing or place­ment arises for mankind in terms of de­mog­ra­phy. This prob­lem of the hu­man site or liv­ing space is not sim­ply that of know­ing whether there will be enough space for men in the world —a prob­lem that is cer­tainly quite im­por­tant — but also that of know­ing what re­la­tions of propin­quity, what type of stor­age, cir­cu­la­tion, mark­ing, and clas­si­fi­ca­tion of hu­man el­e­ments should be adopted in a given sit­u­a­tion in or­der to achieve a given end. Our epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of re­la­tions among sites.

In any case I be­lieve that the anx­i­ety of our era has to do fun­da­men­tally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time prob­a­bly ap­pears to us only as one of the var­i­ous dis­trib­u­tive op­er­a­tions that are pos­si­ble for the el­e­ments that are spread out in space,

Now, de­spite all the tech­niques for ap­pro­pri­at­ing space, de­spite the whole net­work of knowl­edge that en­ables us to de­limit or to for­mal­ize it, con­tem­po­rary space is per­haps still not en­tirely de­sanc­ti­fied (apparently un­like time, it would seem, which was de­tached from the sa­cred in the nine­teenth cen­tury). To be sure a cer­tain the­o­ret­i­cal de­sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of space (the one sig­naled by Galileo’s work) has oc­curred, but we may still not have reached the point of a prac­ti­cal de­sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of space. And per­haps our life is still gov­erned by a cer­tain num­ber of op­po­si­tions that re­main in­vi­o­lable, that our in­sti­tu­tions and prac­tices have not yet dared to break down. These are op­po­si­tions that we re­gard as sim­ple givens: for ex­am­ple be­tween pri­vate space and pub­lic space, be­tween fam­ily space and so­cial space, be­tween cul­tural space and use­ful space, be­tween the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nur­tured by the hid­den pres­ence of the sa­cred.

Bachelard’s mon­u­men­tal work and the de­scrip­tions of phe­nom­e­nol­o­gists have taught us that we do not live in a ho­mo­ge­neous and empty space, but on the con­trary in a space thor­oughly im­bued with quan­ti­ties and per­haps thor­oughly fan­tas­matic as well. The space of our pri­mary per­cep­tion, the space of our dreams and that of our pas­sions hold within them­selves qual­i­ties that seem in­trin­sic: there is a light, ethe­real, trans­par­ent space, or again a dark, rough, en­cum­bered space; a space from above, of sum­mits, or on the con­trary a space from be­low of mud; or again a space that can be flow­ing like sparkling wa­ter, or space that is fixed, con­gealed, like stone or crys­tal. Yet these analy­ses, while fun­da­men­tal for re­flec­tion in our time, pri­mar­ily con­cern in­ter­nal space. I should like to speak now of ex­ter­nal space.

The space in which we live, which draws us out of our­selves, in which the ero­sion of our lives. our time and our his­tory oc­curs, the space that claws and gnaws at us, is also, in it­self, a het­ero­ge­neous space. In other words, we do not live in a kind of void, in­side of which we could place in­di­vid­u­als and things. We do not live in­side a void that could be col­ored with di­verse shades of light, we live in­side a set of re­la­tions that de­lin­eates sites which are ir­re­ducible to one an­other and ab­solutely not su­per­im­pos­able on one an­other.

Of course one might at­tempt to de­scribe these dif­fer­ent sites by look­ing for the set of re­la­tions by which a given site can be de­fined. For ex­am­ple, de­scrib­ing the set of re­la­tions that de­fine the sites of trans­porta­tion, streets, trains (a train is an ex­tra­or­di­nary bun­dle of re­la­tions be­cause it is some­thing through which one goes, it is also some­thing by means of which one can go from one point to an­other, and then it is also some­thing that goes by). One could de­scribe, via the clus­ter of re­la­tions that al­lows them to be de­fined, the sites of tem­po­rary re­lax­ation —cafes, cin­e­mas, beaches. Likewise one could de­scribe, via its net­work of re­la­tions, the closed or semi-closed sites of rest — the house, the bed­room, the bed, el cetera. But among all these sites, I am in­ter­ested in cer­tain ones that have the cu­ri­ous prop­erty of be­ing in re­la­tion with all the other sites, but in such a way as to sus­pect, neu­tral­ize, or in­vert the set of re­la­tions that they hap­pen to des­ig­nate, mir­ror, or re­flect. These spaces, as it were, which are linked with all the oth­ers, which how­ever con­tra­dict all the other sites, are of two main types.

HETEROTOPIAS

First there are the utopias. Utopias are sites with no real place. They are sites that have a gen­eral re­la­tion of di­rect or in­verted anal­ogy with the real space of Society. They pre­sent so­ci­ety it­self in a per­fected form, or else so­ci­ety turned up­side down, but in any case these utopias are fun­da­men­tally un­real spaces.

There are also, prob­a­bly in every cul­ture, in every civ­i­liza­tion, real places — places that do ex­ist and that are formed in the very found­ing of so­ci­ety — which are some­thing like counter-sites, a kind of ef­fec­tively en­acted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the cul­ture, are si­mul­ta­ne­ously rep­re­sented, con­tested, and in­verted. Places of this kind are out­side of all places, even though it may be pos­si­ble to in­di­cate their lo­ca­tion in re­al­ity. Because these places are ab­solutely dif­fer­ent from all the sites that they re­flect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of con­trast to utopias, het­ero­topias. I be­lieve that be­tween utopias and these quite other sites, these het­ero­topias, there might be a sort of mixed, joint ex­pe­ri­ence, which would be the mir­ror. The mir­ror is, af­ter all, a utopia, since it is a place­less place. In the mir­ror, I see my­self there where I am not, in an un­real, vir­tual space that opens up be­hind the sur­face; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own vis­i­bil­ity to my­self, that en­ables me to see my­self there where I am ab­sent: such is the utopia of the mir­ror. But it is also a het­ero­topia in so far as the mir­ror does ex­ist in re­al­ity, where it ex­erts a sort of coun­ter­ac­tion on the po­si­tion that I oc­cupy. From the stand­point of the mir­ror I dis­cover my ab­sence from the place where I am since I see my­self over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, di­rected to­ward me, from the ground of this vir­tual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back to­ward my­self; I be­gin again to di­rect my eyes to­ward my­self and to re­con­sti­tute my­self there where I am. 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.

As for the het­ero­topias as such, how can they be de­scribed? What mean­ing do they have? We might imag­ine a sort of sys­tem­atic de­scrip­tion — I do not say a sci­ence be­cause the term is too gal­va­nized now —that would, in a given so­ci­ety, take as its ob­ject the study, analy­sis, de­scrip­tion, and reading” (as some like to say nowa­days) of these dif­fer­ent spaces, of these other places. As a sort of si­mul­ta­ne­ously mythic and real con­tes­ta­tion of the space in which we live, this de­scrip­tion could be called het­ero­topol­ogy.

Its first prin­ci­ple is that there is prob­a­bly not a sin­gle cul­ture in the world that fails to con­sti­tute het­ero­topias. That is a con­stant of every hu­man group. But the het­ero­topias ob­vi­ously take quite var­ied forms, and per­haps no one ab­solutely uni­ver­sal form of het­ero­topia would be found. We can how­ever class them in two main cat­e­gories.

In the so-called prim­i­tive so­ci­eties, there is a cer­tain form of het­ero­topia that I would call cri­sis het­ero­topias, i.e., there are 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: ado­les­cents, men­stru­at­ing women, preg­nant women. the el­derly, etc. In out so­ci­ety, these cri­sis het­ero­topias are per­sis­tently dis­ap­pear­ing, though a few rem­nants can still be found. For ex­am­ple, the board­ing school, in its nine­teenth-cen­tury form, or mil­i­tary ser­vice for young men, have cer­tainly played such a role, as the first man­i­fes­ta­tions of sex­ual viril­ity were in fact sup­posed to take place elsewhere” than at home. For girls, there was, un­til the mid­dle of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, a tra­di­tion called the honeymoon trip” which was an an­ces­tral theme. The young wom­an’s de­flow­er­ing could take place nowhere” and, at the mo­ment of its oc­cur­rence the train or hon­ey­moon ho­tel was in­deed the place of this nowhere, this het­ero­topia with­out ge­o­graph­i­cal mark­ers.

But these het­ero­topias of cri­sis are dis­ap­pear­ing to­day and are be­ing re­placed, I be­lieve, by what we might call het­ero­topias of de­vi­a­tion: those in which in­di­vid­u­als whose be­hav­ior is de­viant in re­la­tion to the re­quired mean or norm are placed. Cases of this are rest homes and psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tals, and of course pris­ons, and one should per­haps add re­tire­ment homes that are, as it were, on the bor­der­line be­tween the het­ero­topia of cri­sis and the het­ero­topia of de­vi­a­tion since, af­ter all, old age is a cri­sis, but is also a de­vi­a­tion since in our so­ci­ety where leisure is the rule, idle­ness is a sort of de­vi­a­tion.

The sec­ond prin­ci­ple of this de­scrip­tion of het­ero­topias is that a so­ci­ety, as its his­tory un­folds, can make an ex­ist­ing het­ero­topia func­tion in a very dif­fer­ent fash­ion; for each het­ero­topia has a pre­cise and de­ter­mined func­tion within a so­ci­ety and the same het­ero­topia can, ac­cord­ing to the syn­chrony of the cul­ture in which it oc­curs, have one func­tion or an­other.

As an ex­am­ple I shall take the strange het­ero­topia of the ceme­tery. The ceme­tery is cer­tainly a place un­like or­di­nary cul­tural spaces. It is a space that is how­ever con­nected with all the sites of the city, state or so­ci­ety or vil­lage, etc., since each in­di­vid­ual, each fam­ily has rel­a­tives in the ceme­tery. In west­ern cul­ture the ceme­tery has prac­ti­cally al­ways ex­isted. But it has un­der­gone im­por­tant changes. Until the end of the eigh­teenth cen­tury, the ceme­tery was placed at the heart of the city, next to the church. In it there was a hi­er­ar­chy of pos­si­ble tombs. There was the char­nel house in which bod­ies lost the last traces of in­di­vid­u­al­ity, there were a few in­di­vid­ual tombs and then there were the tombs in­side the church. These lat­ter tombs were them­selves of two types, ei­ther sim­ply tomb­stones with an in­scrip­tion, or mau­soleums with stat­ues. This ceme­tery housed in­side the sa­cred space of the church has taken on a quite dif­fer­ent cast in mod­ern civ­i­liza­tions, and cu­ri­ously, it is in a time when civ­i­liza­tion has be­come atheistic,” as one says very crudely, that west­ern cul­ture has es­tab­lished what is termed the cult of the dead.

Basically it was quite nat­ural that, in a time of real be­lief in the res­ur­rec­tion of bod­ies and the im­mor­tal­ity of the soul, over­rid­ing im­por­tance was not ac­corded to the body’s re­mains. On the con­trary, from the mo­ment when peo­ple are no longer sure that they have a soul or that the body will re­gain life, it is per­haps nec­es­sary to give much more at­ten­tion to the dead body, which is ul­ti­mately the only trace of our ex­is­tence in the world and in lan­guage. In any case, it is from the be­gin­ning of the nine­teenth cen­tury that every­one has a right to her or his own lit­tle box for her or his own lit­tle per­sonal de­cay, but on the other hand, it is only from that start of the nine­teenth cen­tury that ceme­ter­ies be­gan to be lo­cated at the out­side bor­der of cities. In cor­re­la­tion with the in­di­vid­u­al­iza­tion of death and the bour­geois ap­pro­pri­a­tion of the ceme­tery, there arises an ob­ses­sion with death as an illness.” The dead, it is sup­posed, bring ill­nesses to the liv­ing, and it is the pres­ence and prox­im­ity of the dead right be­side the houses, next to the church, al­most in the mid­dle of the street, it is this prox­im­ity that prop­a­gates death it­self. This ma­jor theme of ill­ness spread by the con­ta­gion in the ceme­ter­ies per­sisted un­til the end of the eigh­teenth cen­tury, un­til, dur­ing the nine­teenth cen­tury, the shift of ceme­ter­ies to­ward the sub­urbs was ini­ti­ated. The ceme­ter­ies then came to con­sti­tute, no longer the sa­cred and im­mor­tal heart of the city, but the other city, where each fam­ily pos­sesses its dark rest­ing place.

Third prin­ci­ple. The het­ero­topia is ca­pa­ble of jux­ta­pos­ing in a sin­gle real place sev­eral spaces, sev­eral sites that are in them­selves in­com­pat­i­ble. Thus it is that the the­ater brings onto the rec­tan­gle of the stage, one af­ter the other, a whole se­ries of places that are for­eign to one an­other; thus it is that the cin­ema is a very odd rec­tan­gu­lar room, at the end of which, on a two-di­men­sional screen, one sees the pro­jec­tion of a three-di­men­sional space, but per­haps the old­est ex­am­ple of these het­ero­topias that take the form of con­tra­dic­tory sites is the gar­den. We must not for­get that in the Orient the gar­den, an as­ton­ish­ing cre­ation that is now a thou­sand years old, had very deep and seem­ingly su­per­im­posed mean­ings. The tra­di­tional gar­den of the Persians was a sa­cred space that was sup­posed to bring to­gether in­side its rec­tan­gle four parts rep­re­sent­ing the four parts of the world, with a space still more sa­cred than the oth­ers that were like an um­bili­cus, the navel of the world at its cen­ter (the basin and wa­ter foun­tain were there); and all the veg­e­ta­tion of the gar­den was sup­posed to come to­gether in this space, in this sort of mi­cro­cosm. As for car­pets, they were orig­i­nally re­pro­duc­tions of gar­dens (the gar­den is a rug onto which the whole world comes to en­act its sym­bolic per­fec­tion, and the rug is a sort of gar­den that can move across space). The gar­den is the small­est par­cel of the world and then it is the to­tal­ity of the world. The gar­den has been a sort of happy, uni­ver­sal­iz­ing het­ero­topia since the be­gin­nings of an­tiq­uity (our mod­ern zo­o­log­i­cal gar­dens spring from that source).

Fourth prin­ci­ple. Heterotopias are most of­ten linked to slices in time — which is to say that they open onto what might be termed, for the sake of sym­me­try, het­e­rochronies. The het­ero­topia be­gins to func­tion at full ca­pac­ity when men ar­rive at a sort of ab­solute break with their tra­di­tional time. This sit­u­a­tion shows us that the ceme­tery is in­deed a highly het­ero­topic place since, for the in­di­vid­ual, the ceme­tery be­gins with this strange het­e­rochrony, the loss of life, and with this quasi-eter­nity in which her per­ma­nent lot is dis­so­lu­tion and dis­ap­pear­ance.

From a gen­eral stand­point, in a so­ci­ety like ours het­ero­topias and het­e­rochronies are struc­tured and dis­trib­uted in a rel­a­tively com­plex fash­ion. First of all, there are het­ero­topias of in­def­i­nitely ac­cu­mu­lat­ing time, for ex­am­ple mu­se­ums and li­braries, Museums and li­braries have be­come het­ero­topias in which time never stops build­ing up and top­ping its own sum­mit, whereas in the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, even at the end of the cen­tury, mu­se­ums and li­braries were the ex­pres­sion of an in­di­vid­ual choice. By con­trast, the idea of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing every­thing, of es­tab­lish­ing a sort of gen­eral archive, the will to en­close in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of con­sti­tut­ing a place of all times that is it­self out­side of time and in­ac­ces­si­ble to its rav­ages, the pro­ject of or­ga­niz­ing in this way a sort of per­pet­ual and in­def­i­nite ac­cu­mu­la­tion of time in an im­mo­bile place, this whole idea be­longs to our moder­nity. The mu­seum and the li­brary are het­ero­topias that are proper to west­ern cul­ture of the nine­teenth cen­tury.

Opposite these het­ero­topias that are linked to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of time, there are those linked, on the con­trary, to time in its most flow­ing, tran­si­tory, pre­car­i­ous as­pect, to time in the mode of the fes­ti­val. These het­ero­topias are not ori­ented to­ward the eter­nal, they are rather ab­solutely tem­po­ral [chroniques]. Such, for ex­am­ple, are the fair­grounds, these marvelous empty sites on the out­skirts of cities” that teem once or twice a year with stands, dis­plays, het­e­ro­clite ob­jects, wrestlers, snake­women, for­tune-tellers, and so forth. Quite re­cently, a new kind of tem­po­ral het­ero­topia has been in­vented: va­ca­tion vil­lages, such as those Polynesian vil­lages that of­fer a com­pact three weeks of prim­i­tive and eter­nal nu­dity to the in­hab­i­tants of the cities. You see, more­over, that through the two forms of het­ero­topias that come to­gether here, the het­ero­topia of the fes­ti­val and that of the eter­nity of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing time, the huts of Djerba are in a sense rel­a­tives of li­braries and mu­se­ums. for the re­dis­cov­ery of Polynesian life abol­ishes time; yet the ex­pe­ri­ence is just as much the,, re­dis­cov­ery of time, it is as if the en­tire his­tory of hu­man­ity reach­ing back to its ori­gin were ac­ces­si­ble in a sort of im­me­di­ate knowl­edge,

Fifth prin­ci­ple. Heterotopias al­ways pre­sup­pose a sys­tem of open­ing and clos­ing that both iso­lates them and makes them pen­e­tra­ble. In gen­eral, the het­ero­topic site is not freely ac­ces­si­ble like a pub­lic place. Either the en­try is com­pul­sory, as in the case of en­ter­ing a bar­racks or a prison, or else the in­di­vid­ual has to sub­mit to rites and pu­rifi­ca­tions. To get in one must have a cer­tain per­mis­sion and make cer­tain ges­tures. Moreover, there are even het­ero­topias that are en­tirely con­se­crated to these ac­tiv­i­ties of pu­rifi­ca­tion —purification that is partly re­li­gious and partly hy­gienic, such as the ham­min of the Moslems, or else pu­rifi­ca­tion that ap­pears to be purely hy­gienic, as in Scandinavian saunas.

There are oth­ers, on the con­trary, that seem to be pure and sim­ple open­ings, but that gen­er­ally hide cu­ri­ous ex­clu­sions. Everyone can en­ter into thew het­ero­topic sites, but in fact that is only an il­lu­sion— we think we en­ter where we are, by the very fact that we en­ter, ex­cluded. I am think­ing for ex­am­ple, of the fa­mous bed­rooms that ex­isted on the great farms of Brazil and else­where in South America. The en­try door did not lead into the cen­tral room where the fam­ily lived, and every in­di­vid­ual or trav­eler who came by had the right to ope this door, to en­ter into the bed­room and to sleep there for a night. Now these bed­rooms were such that the in­di­vid­ual who went into them never had ac­cess to the fam­i­ly’s quar­ter the vis­i­tor was ab­solutely the guest in tran­sit, was not re­ally the in­vited guest. This type of het­ero­topia, which has prac­ti­cally dis­ap­peared from our civ­i­liza­tions, could per­haps be found in the fa­mous American mo­tel rooms where a man goes with his car and his mis­tress and where il­licit sex is both ab­solutely shel­tered and ab­solutely hid­den, kept iso­lated with­out how­ever be­ing al­lowed out in the open.

Sixth prin­ci­ple. The last trait of het­ero­topias is that they have a func­tion in re­la­tion to all the space that re­mains. This func­tion un­folds be­tween two ex­treme poles. Either their role is to cre­ate a space of il­lu­sion that ex­poses every real space, all the sites in­side of which hu­man life is par­ti­tioned, as still more il­lu­sory (perhaps that is the role that was played by those fa­mous broth­els of which we are now de­prived). Or else, on the con­trary, their role is to cre­ate a space that is other, an­other real space, as per­fect, as metic­u­lous, as well arranged as ours is messy, ill con­structed, and jum­bled. This lat­ter type would be the het­ero­topia, not of il­lu­sion, but of com­pen­sa­tion, and I won­der if cer­tain colonies have not func­tioned some­what in this man­ner. In cer­tain cases, they have played, on the level of the gen­eral or­ga­ni­za­tion of ter­res­trial space, the role of het­ero­topias. I am think­ing, for ex­am­ple, of the first wave of col­o­niza­tion in the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, of the Puritan so­ci­eties that the English had founded in America and that were ab­solutely per­fect other places. I am also think­ing of those ex­tra­or­di­nary Jesuit colonies that were founded in South America: mar­velous, ab­solutely reg­u­lated colonies in which hu­man per­fec­tion was ef­fec­tively achieved. The Jesuits of Paraguay es­tab­lished colonies in which ex­is­tence was reg­u­lated at every turn. The vil­lage was laid out ac­cord­ing to a rig­or­ous plan around a rec­tan­gu­lar place at the foot of which was the church; on one side, there was the school; on the other, the ceme­tery, and then, in front of the church, an av­enue set out that an­other crossed at fight an­gles; each fam­ily had its lit­tle cabin along these two axes and thus the sign of Christ was ex­actly re­pro­duced. Christianity marked the space and ge­og­ra­phy of the American world with its fun­da­men­tal sign.

The daily life of in­di­vid­u­als was reg­u­lated, not by the whis­tle, but by the bell. Everyone was awak­ened at the same time, every­one be­gan work at the same time; meals were at noon and five o’­clock, then came bed­time, and at mid­night came what was called the mar­i­tal wake-up, that is, at the chime of the church­bell, each per­son car­ried out her/​his duty.

Brothels and colonies are two ex­treme types of het­ero­topia, and if we think, af­ter all, that the boat is a float­ing piece of space, a place with­out a place, that ex­ists by it­self, that is closed in on it­self and at the same time is given over to the in­fin­ity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most pre­cious trea­sures they con­ceal in their gar­dens, you will un­der­stand why the boat has not only been for our civ­i­liza­tion, from the six­teenth cen­tury un­til the pre­sent, the great in­stru­ment of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment (I have not been speak­ing of that to­day), but has been si­mul­ta­ne­ously the great­est re­serve of the imag­i­na­tion. The ship is the het­ero­topia par ex­cel­lence. In civ­i­liza­tions with­out boats, dreams dry up, es­pi­onage takes the place of ad­ven­ture, and the po­lice take the place of pi­rates.