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A compressing of time and space into one place. "Heterotopia is a concept in human geography elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault to describe places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions. These are spaces of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror. A utopia is an idea or an image that is not real but represents a perfected version of society, such as Thomas More’s book or Le Corbusier’s drawings. Foucault uses the term heterotopia to describe spaces that have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye. In general, a heterotopia is a physical representation or approximation of a utopia (like the city of Brasilia), or a parallel space that contains undesirable bodies to make a real utopian space possible (like a prison)" [1].

Books and Articles on Heterotopia

The Badlands of Modernity

"The Badlands of Modernity offers a wide ranging and original interpretation of modernity. Through an analysis of some of the most important social spaces of the eighteenth century, this book examines contemporary debates about modernity and postmodernity, the character of social order and the significance of marginal space in relation to issues of order, transgression and resistance. Drawing on Foucault's analysis of heterotopia, or spaces of alternate ordering, Kevin Hetherington argues that modernity originates through an interplay between ideas of utopia and heterotopia. Tha Palais Royal during the French Revolution, the masonic lodge and the early factories of the industrial revolution are all analyzed as heterotopia, in which modern social ordering is developed. Rather than seeing modernity as being defined by social order, the book argues that we need to take account of the processes that produce social ordering, their ambiguity and the spaces in which they emerge, if we are tounderstand the character of modern societies” [2].

Second Life: The Prehistory of a Heterotopia

"SL is an internet-based graphical interface, three-dimensional computer- mediated communication space in which residents can buy and sell land to create virtual landscapes of recreation, communication and commerce. A downloadable client software program allows users to interact with each other over the internet using ‘avatars’ which they design and may modify the appearance of at any time. Although it may at first appear like a game, SL has grown since its launch in 2003 into a serious forum for commerce, communication, recreation, and debate. It has its own unit of currency, the Linden dollar (L$), which can be purchased and exchanged for US dollars. On Monday 15 October 2007, the exchange rate was listed as L$268=US$1. As of the same date, 453,097 residents had logged into SL in the previous 7 days, and the total number of resident accounts was listed as 10,079,765 (however, individuals may hold multiple resident accounts and it appears that resident accounts are not deleted even when they have been inactive for a long period of time). In the month of September 2007, 76,048,960 m2 of land had been sold by residents, at an average price of L$6.4622 per m2". (2.)
"A three-dimensional modelling tool within SL allows residents to build any sort of virtual object they wish. The governing philosophy of SL is that residents create most of the content in the world themselves. Residents own the intellectual property rights in any material they create within SL, and it is this feature of the virtual world that has allowed the significant virtual economy in Linden dollars to grow – residents may buy and sell anything they create in SL, including clothing, buildings, vehicles and ‘gestures’ amongst other things?". (2.)


  1. Heterotopia (space) - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
  2. 82, Harrison, Rodney. Excavating Second Life: Cyber-Archaeologies, Heritage and Virtual Communities The Open University, UK. Published in the Journal of Material Culture. Vol. 14(1): 75–106 Copyright © 2009 SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC) [DOI: 10.1177/1359183508100009] www.sagepublications.com

Further Reading