Read and discuss the text »Non-Places« by Marc Augé

Compare it to the concept of a Heterotopia by Michel Foucault. Describe a personal Non-Place experience out of your life.

Puja Khurana — 20 November 2012, 11:46

In this text, Michel starts by examining the perception of space of western age and middle ages and the development of the same over time. He adds that relations of proximity between elements or points define these sites. These sites that he mentions, can be, for example, sites of transportation, trains, buses, metros or sites of temporary relaxation or entertainment such as cinemas, bowling alleys, coffee shops, etc. or semi-closed sites like houses, bedrooms etc. The author feels that problem about living space lies not in turns of demography, but is terms of the kinds of demarcations and classifications necessary to achieve a given goal.

Heterotopia is a concept further introduced by Michel F. that essentially talks about places or space that are neither real nor entirely virtual. Places or spaces that create the idea of ‘in-between’, like the very moment when we look into a mirror to see our own image. In reality, the mirror is a non-existent place, but it is also a thing in its own form creating some sort of reality as it shows us who or what we are. He talks about how such utopian places and heterotopias places exist in every culture and civilization. He articulates the types of heterotopia into 6 principles: 1) Crisis heterotopia: A sacred or forbidden place, which is reserved for people in crisis. For e.g., boarding schools, honeymoon suites, etc. But these crisis heterotopias are constantly disappearing. 2) Heterotopias of deviation: The institutions where people who do not have normal behavior are placed. For e.g., asylums, hospitals, cemeteries etc. 3) Collective heterotopia: This heterotopia that juxtaposes several spaces in a single space. E.g., A garden, theatre, etc. A garden brings plants from different corners of the world into one place forming a ‘garden.’ 4) Heterotopia of accumulating time: This heterotopia brings together in one place pieces or people from different times to co-exist. For e.g., a Vacation village which happen annually with fortunetellers, snake charmers, wrestlers etc. or even museums. 5) Heterotopias of purifications or isolation: These spaces are isolated and not usually freely accessible like a public space. TO get in, one should have certain permission or make certain gestures. For e.g., American motel rooms 6) Heterotopia of space: This heterotopia creates a space of illusion which exposes every real space or is to create another space which is perfect and organized in contradiction to our messy & jumbled spaces.

Puja Khurana — 20 November 2012, 11:46

In conclusion, Michel Foucault analyses spaces in different contexts and situations and by dividing them into six further categories, he plays with the dynamic proximity and virtual borders by stretching them, juxtaposing them, bringing different times together and creating illusions.

While if we look at the text about Non-places, we see that it talks about a space or a place which gives you a sense of freedom in the terms of being in a crowd of completely unknown people but it also forces you to abide by certain rules and decorum. Non-places can be called as the kind of Heterotopias which juxtapose several spaces in a single space, for e.g., a garden, a supermarket, a mall, etc. Hence, I feel that these 'collective' heterotopias ( as I like to classify them : third principle by Michel Foucault ) are revised to be called Non-Places.

In today's world, evidently there are a lot of non-places like supermarkets, malls, airports etc. and these happen to be the busiest places in the world. Non-places seem to attract me because of their fancy appearances and the fact that things/commodities/etc from all around the globe come together in this one place which almost seems like a paradise. Being surrounded by all types, flavors and companies of food/products in a supermarket tempts me but at the same time it constantly reminds you of the artificial environment. There is and there will not be anything homely about such places which is why they push you away after a while. I would say non-places creates illusions of a perfect utopian place where things, people, commodities etc. come under the same roof but at the same time you can't be bereft of the fact that the place is not one bit comfortable and doesn't make you feel homely.

Uma — 08 December 2012, 14:16

Each of their concepts connect to a space where time and objects aren't defined, where one loses track of certain things. Both of their concepts are interrelated.

A space where one seems to be out of place (out of place from his recent surroundings). Marc Ague's Non place connects with me more about how these recent modern structures have emerged that create a typical space and atmosphere across the world. A homogeneous space. How when one enters these kind of spaces feels a sense of difference from the exterior they came from. It has a same uniformity across the globe. But, still one feels attracted to these kinds of space.

Whenever I enter such spaces, it seems that I have traveled from a time machine, it feels all clean and huge. They do have a tendency to feel boring after some time. What is interesting is why was one interested in it at the first place and if so why bored later? The recent huge growth of such places is becoming a trend.

Heterotopia though it talks about a similar space it seems like it can happen anywhere as long as the phenomenon occurs. Its an interesting phenomenon that I have always had but have never thought about it in this way. It can be created through media or mirror where one might not clearly formulate where one is. Ones physical body and senses detach. As we have been using such phenomena since so long we might be so accustomed to it but in reality for first timers it will create a huge disturbance in their perception of whats going on.

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