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info -> Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias

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. 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. !ne could perhaps say that certain ideological conflicts animating
present-day polemics oppose the pious descendents of time and the determined inhabitants of
space. "tructuralism, 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. #ctually,
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.
%et it is necessary to notice that the space which today appears to form the hori&on 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. !ne could
say, by way of retracing this history of space very roughly, that in the 'iddle #ges 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). n
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. t 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 *alileo. +or the real scandal of *alileo,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. n such a space the place of the 'iddle #ges
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. n
other words, starting with *alileo and the seventeenth century, extension was substituted for
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. 'oreover, 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.
n 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 -uite
important - but also that of knowing what relations of propin-uity, 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. !ur epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of
relations among sites.
n any case 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,
.ow, despite all the techni-ues for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge
that enables us to delimit or to formali&e 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 *alileo,s work) has occurred, but we may still not have reached the point of a practical
desanctification of space. #nd 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. #ll these are still nurtured by
the hidden presence of the sacred.
/achelard,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 -uantities 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 -ualities
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. %et these analyses, while fundamental for reflection in our time, primarily
concern internal space. 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. n 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.
!f course one might attempt to describe these different sites by looking for the set of relations
by which a given site can be defined. +or 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). !ne could describe, via the
cluster of relations that allows them to be defined, the sites of temporary relaxation -cafes,
cinemas, beaches. 0ikewise one could describe, via its network of relations, the closed or semi-
closed sites of rest - the house, the bedroom, the bed, el cetera. /ut among all these sites, 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, neutrali&e, or invent 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.
+irst there are the utopias. 1topias are sites with no real place. They are sites that have a
general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space of "ociety. 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 civili&ation, 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. 2laces of this kind
are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality.
/ecause these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak
about, shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias. believe that between
utopias and these -uite 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. n the mirror, see myself there where am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up
behind the surface$ am over there, there where am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own
visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where am absent: such is the utopia of
the mirror. /ut 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 occupy. +rom the standpoint of the mirror
discover my absence from the place where am since see myself over there. "tarting from this
ga&e that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the
other side of the glass, come back toward myself$ begin again to direct my eyes toward
myself and to reconstitute myself there where am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this
respect: it makes this place that occupy at the moment when 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.
#s for the heterotopias as such, how can they be described3 What meaning do they have3 We
might imagine a sort of systematic description - do not say a science because the term is too
galvani&ed 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. #s a sort of simultaneously mythic and real contestation of the space in which we
live, this description could be called heterotopology.
"ts 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. /ut the heterotopias obviously
take -uite varied forms, and perhaps no one absolutely universal form of heterotopia would be
found. We can however class them in two main categories.
n the so-called primitive societies, there is a certain form of heterotopia that 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. n out society, these crisis
heterotopias are persistently disappearing, though a few remnants can still be found. +or
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 4elsewhere4 than at home. +or girls, there was, until the middle of the
twentieth century, a tradition called the 4honeymoon trip4 which was an ancestral theme. The
young woman,s deflowering could take place 4nowhere4 and, at the moment of its occurrence
the train or honeymoon hotel was indeed the place of this nowhere, this heterotopia without
geographical markers.
/ut these heterotopias of crisis are disappearing today and are being replaced, believe, by
what we might call heterotopias of deviation: those in which individuals whose behavior is
deviant in relation to the re-uired mean or norm are placed. 5ases 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 secon$ 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.
#s an example shall take the strange heterotopia of the cemetery. The cemetery is certainly a
place unlike ordinary cultural spaces. t 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. n western culture the cemetery has practically always existed. /ut it has undergone
important changes. 1ntil the end of the eighteenth century, the cemetery was placed at the
heart of the city, next to the church. n 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 -uite different cast in
modern civili&ations, and curiously, it is in a time when civili&ation has become ,atheistic,, as one
says very crudely, that western culture has established what is termed the cult of the dead.
/asically it was -uite 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. !n 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. n 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. n
correlation with the individuali&ation 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.
Thir$ 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 !rient the garden, an astonishing creation that is now a thousand
years old, had very deep and seemingly superimposed meanings. The traditional garden of the
2ersians 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. #s 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, universali&ing heterotopia since
the beginnings of anti-uity (our modern &oological gardens spring from that source).
Fourth principle. 6eterotopias 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 -uasi-eternity in which her permanent lot is dissolution and disappearance.
+rom a general standpoint, in a society like ours heterotopias and heterochronies are structured
and distributed in a relatively complex fashion. +irst of all, there are heterotopias of indefinitely
accumulating time, for example museums and libraries, 'useums 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. /y 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 organi&ing 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.
!pposite 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 7chroni-ues8. "uch, 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. 9uite recently, a new kind of temporal
heterotopia has been invented: vacation villages, such as those 2olynesian villages that offer a
compact three weeks of primitive and eternal nudity to the inhabitants of the cities. %ou 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 :jerba are in a sense
relatives of libraries and museums. for the rediscovery of 2olynesian 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. 6eterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both
isolates them and makes them penetrable. n general, the heterotopic site is not freely
accessible like a public place. ;ither 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. 'oreover, 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 'oslems, or else purification that
appears to be purely hygienic, as in "candinavian saunas.
There are others, on the contrary, that seem to be pure and simple openings, but that generally
hide curious exclusions. ;veryone 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. am
thinking for example, of the famous bedrooms that existed on the great farms of /ra&il and
elsewhere in "outh #merica. 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. .ow these bedrooms were such that the individual
who went into them never had access to the family,s -uarter the visitor was absolutely the guest
in transit, was not really the invited guest. This type of heterotopia, which has practically
disappeared from our civili&ations, could perhaps be found in the famous #merican 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.
Si%th 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. ;ither 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). !r 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 wonder if certain colonies have not functioned somewhat in this manner. n
certain cases, they have played, on the level of the general organi&ation of terrestrial space, the
role of heterotopias. am thinking, for example, of the first wave of coloni&ation in the
seventeenth century, of the 2uritan societies that the ;nglish had founded in #merica and that
were absolutely perfect other places. am also thinking of those extraordinary <esuit colonies
that were founded in "outh #merica: marvelous, absolutely regulated colonies in which human
perfection was effectively achieved. The <esuits of 2araguay 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 5hrist was exactly reproduced. 5hristianity marked the space and geography of the
#merican world with its fundamental sign.
The daily life of individuals was regulated, not by the whistle, but by the bell. ;veryone 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.
/rothels 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 civili&ation, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of
economic development ( have not been speaking of that today), but has been simultaneously
the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. n
civili&ations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the
police take the place of pirates.
This text, entitled 4:es ;space #utres,4 and published by the +rench journal #rchitecture ='ouvement= 5ontinuit> in
!ctober, ?@AB, was the basis of a lecture given by 'ichel +oucault in 'arch ?@CD. #lthough not reviewed for
publication by the author and thus not part of the official corpus of his work, the manuscript was relaeased into the
public domain for an exhibition in /erlin shortly before 'ichel +oucault,s death. Translated from the +rench by <ay

From: Power/Knowledge, Selected Interiew! and "ther #riting! $%&'($%&&.
Interiewer!: editorial collectie of Quell Corps?
o )ou de*ict in Discipline and Punish a *olitical !y!tem where the King+! ,ody *lay! an
im*ortant role...
In a !ociety like that of the !eenteenth century, the King+! ,ody wa!n+t a meta*hor, ,ut a
*olitical reality. It! *hy!ical *re!ence wa! nece!!ary for the functioning of the monarchy.
o -nd what a,out the .e*u,lic, +one and i!i,le+/
0hat+! a formula that wa! im*o!ed again!t the 1irondin! and the idea of an -merican(!tyle
federali!m. But it neer o*erated in the !ame manner a! the King+! ,ody under the monarchy.
"n the contrary, it+! the ,ody of !ociety which ,ecome! the new *rinci*le in the nineteenth
century. It i! thi! !ocial ,ody which need! to ,e *rotected, in a 2ua!i(medical !en!e. In *lace of
the ritual! that !ered to re!tore the cor*oral integrity of the monarch, remedie! and
thera*eutic deice! are em*loyed !uch a! the !egregation of the !ick, the monitoring of
contagion!, the e3clu!ion of delin2uent!. 0he elimination of ho!tile element! ,y the supplice
4*u,lic torture and e3ecution5 i! thu! re*laced ,y the method of a!e*!i! ( criminology,
eugenic! and the 2uarantining of +degenerate!+....
o I! there a fanta!y ,ody corre!*onding to different ty*e! of in!titution/
I ,eliee the great fanta!y i! the idea of a !ocial ,ody con!tituted ,y the unier!ality of will!.
6ow the *henomenon of the !ocial ,ody i! the effect not of a con!en!u! ,ut of the materiality
of *ower o*erating on the ery ,odie! of indiidual!.
o 0he eighteenth century i! u!ually !een under the a!*ect of li,eration. )ou de!cri,e it
a! the *eriod when a network of form! of control 4quadrillage5 i! !et in *lace . I! the
li,eration *o!!i,le without the quadrillage/
-! alway! with relation! of *ower, one i! faced with com*le3 *henomena which don+t o,ey the
7egelian form o! the dialectic. 8a!tery and awarene!! of one+! own ,ody can ,e ac2uired
only through the effect of an ine!tment of *ower in the ,ody: gymna!tic!, e3erci!e!, mu!cle(
,uilding, nudi!m, glorification of the ,ody ,eautiful. -ll of thi! ,elong! to the *athway leading to
the de!ire of one+! own ,ody, ,y way of the in!i!tent, *er!i!tent, meticulou! work of *ower on
the ,odie! of children or !oldier!, the healthy ,odie!. But once *ower *roduce! thi! effect,
there ineita,ly emerge the re!*onding claim! and affirmation!, tho!e of one+! own ,ody
again!t *ower, of health again!t the economic !y!tem, of *lea!ure again!t the moral norm! of
!e3uality, marriage, decency. Suddenly, what had made *ower !trong ,ecome! u!ed to attack
it. Power, after ine!ting it!elf in the ,ody, find! it!elf e3*o!ed to a counter(attack in that !ame
,ody. 9o you recall the *anic of the in!titution! of the !ocial ,ody, the doctor! and *olitician!,
at the idea of non(legali!ed coha,itation 4l'union libre5 or free a,ortion/ But the im*re!!ion that
*ower weaken! and acillate! here i! in fact mi!taken: *ower can retreat here, re(organi!e it!
force!, ine!t it!elf el!ewhere ...and !o the ,attle continue!.
o #ould thi! account for the much(di!cu!!ed +recu*eration+ of the ,ody through
*ornora*hy and aderti!ing/
I don+t agree at all with thi! talk a,out +recu*eration+. #hat+! taking *lace i! the u!ual !trategic
deelo*ment of a !truggle. ;et+! take a *reci!e e3am*le, that of autoerotici!m. 0he re!triction!
on ma!tur,ation hardly !tart in <uro*e until the eighteenth century. Suddenly, a *anic(theme
a**ear!: an a**alling !ickne!! deelo*! in the #e!tern world. =hildren ma!tur,ate. >ia the
medium of familie!, though not at their initiatie, a !y!tem of control of !e3uality, an
o,?ectii!ation of !e3uality allied to cor*oral *er!ecution, i! e!ta,li!hed oer ,odie! of children.
But !e3uality, through thu! ,ecoming an o,?ect of analy!i! and concern, engender! at the
!ame time an inten!ification of each indiidual+! de!ire, for, in and oer hi! ,ody.
0he ,ody thu! ,ecame the i!!ue of a conflict ,etween *arent! and children, the child and the
in!tance! of control. 0he reolt of the of the !e3ual ,ody i! the reer!e effect of thi!
encroachment. #hat i! the re!*on!e on the !ide of *ower/ -n economic 4and *erha*! al!o
ideological5 e3*loitation of erotici!ation, from !un(tan *roduct! to *ornogra*hic film!.
.e!*onding *reci!ely to the reolt of the ,ody, we find a new mode of ine!tment which
*re!ent! it!elf no longer in the form of control ,y re*re!!ion ,ut that of control ,y !timulation.
+1et undre!!ed ( ,ut ,e !lim, good(looking, tanned@A For each moe ,y one ader!ary, there i!
an an!wering one ,y the other. But thi! i!n+t +recu*eration+ in the ;efti!t!+ !en!e. "ne ha! to
recogni!e the indefinitene!! of the !truggle ( though thi! i! not to !ay it won+t !ome day hae
an end...
o 9oe!n+t a new reolutionary !trategy for taking *ower hae to *roceed ia a new
definition of the *olitic! of the ,ody/
0he emergence of the *ro,lem of the ,ody and it! growing urgency hae come a,out through
the unfolding of a *olitical !truggle. #hether thi! i! a reolutionary !truggle, I don+t know. "ne
can !ay that what ha! ha**ened !ince $%BC, and argua,ly what made $%BC *o!!i,le, i!
!omething *rofoundly anti(8ar3i!t. 7ow can <uro*ean reolutionary moement! free
them!ele! from the +8ar3 effect+, the in!titution! ty*ical of nineteenth( and twentieth(century
8ar3i!m/ 0hi! wa! the direction of the 2ue!tion! *o!ed ,y +BC. In thi! calling in 2ue!tion of the
e2uation: 8ar3i!mDthe reolutionary *roce!!, an e2uation that con!tituted a kind of dogma,
the im*ortance gien to the ,ody i! one of the im*ortant, if not e!!ential element!.
o #hat cour!e i! the eolution of the ,odily relation!hi* ,etween the ma!!e! and the
State a**aratu! taking/
Fir!t of all one mu!t !et a!ide the widely held the!i! that *ower, in our ,ourgeoi!, ca*itali!t,
!ocietie! ha! denied the reality of the ,ody in faour of the !oul, con!cioune!!, ideality. In fact
nothing i! more material, *hy!ical, cor*oral than the e3erci!e of *ower. #hat mode of
ine!tment of the ,ody i! nece!!ary and ade2uate for the functioning of a ca*itali!t !ociety like
our!/ From the eighteenth to the early twentieth century I think it wa! ,elieed that the
ine!tment of the ,ody ,y *ower had to ,e heay, *onderou!, meticulou! and con!tant. 7ence
the formida,le di!ci*linary regime! in the !chool!, ho!*ital!, ,arrack!, factorie!, citie!,
lodging!, familie!. -nd then, !tarting in the $0B0!, it ,egan to ,e reali!ed that !uch a
cum,er!ome form of *ower wa! no longer a! indi!*en!a,le a! had ,een thought and that
indu!trial !ocietie! could content them!ele! with a much loo!er form of *ower oer the ,ody.
0hen i! wa! di!coered that control of !e3uality could ,e attenuated and gien new form!. "ne
need! to !tudy what kind of ,ody the current ,ody need!...
o #ould you di!tingui!h your intere!t in the ,ody from that of other contem*orary
I think I would di!tingui!h my!elf from ,oth the 8ar3i!t and the *ara(8ar3i!t *er!*ectie!. -!
regard! 6ar3i!m, I+m not one of tho!e who try to elicit the effect! of *ower at the leel of
ideology. Indeed I wonder whether, ,efore one *o!e! the 2ue!tion of ideology, it wouldn+t ,e
more materiali!t to !tudy fir!t the 2ue!tion of the ,ody and the effect! of *ower on it. Becau!e
what trou,le! me with the!e analy!e! which *rioriti!e ideology i! that there i! alway!
*re!u**o!ed a human !u,?ect on the line! of the model *roided ,y cla!!ical *hilo!o*hy,
endowed with a con!ciou!ne!! which *ower i! then thought to !eiEe on.
o But the 8ar3i!t *er!*ectie doe! include an awarene!! of the effect of *ower on the
,ody in the working !ituation.
=ertainly. But wherea! today *olitical and economic demand! are coming to ,e made more on
,ehalf of the wage(earner+! ,ody than of the wage(earning cla!!, one !eldom hear! the former
,eing di!cu!!ed a! !uch. It+! a! though +reolutionary+ di!cour!e! were !till !tee*ed in the
rituali!tic theme! deried from 8ar3i!t analy!e!. -nd while there are !ome ery intere!ting
thing! a,out the ,ody in 8ar3+! writing!, 8ar3i!m con!idered a! an hi!torical realityha! had a
terri,le tendency to occlude the 2ue!tion of the ,ody, in faour of con!ciou!ne!! and ideology.
I would al!o di!tingui!h my!elf from *ara(8ar3i!t! like 8arcu!e who gie the notion of
re*re!!ion an e3agerrated role ( ,ecau!e *ower would ,e a fragile thing if it! only function
were to re*re!!, if it worked only through the mode of cen!or!hi*, e3clu!ion, ,lockage and
re*re!!ion, in the manner of a great Su*erego, e3erci!ing it!elf only in a negatie way. If, on
the contrary, *ower i! !trong thi! i! ,ecau!e, a! we are ,eginning to reali!e, it *roduce! effect!
at the leel of de!ire ( and al!o at the leel of knowledge. Far from *reenting knowledge,
*ower *roduce! it. If it ha! ,een *o!!i,le to con!titute a knowledge of the ,ody, thi! ha! ,een
,y way of an en!em,le of military and educational di!ci*line!. It wa! on the ,a!i! of *ower
oer the ,ody that a *hy!iological, organic knowledge of it ,ecame *o!!i,le.
0he fact that *ower i! !o dee*ly rooted and the difficulty of eluding it! em,race are effect! of
all the!e connection!. 0hat i! why the notion of re*re!!ion which mechani!m! of *ower are
generally reduced to !trike! me a! ery inade2uate and *o!!i,ly dangerou!.
o )our !tudy i! concentrated on all tho!e micro(*ower! that are e3erci!ed at the leel of
daily life. -ren+t you neglecting the State a**aratu! here/
It+! true that !ince the late nineteenth century 8ar3i!t and +8ar3i!ed+ reolutionary moement!
hae ,een gien !*ecial im*ortance to the State a**aratu! a! the !take of their !truggle. #hat
were the ultimate con!e2uence! of thi!/ In order to ,e a,le to fight a State which i! more than
?u!t a goernment, the reolutionary moement mu!t *o!!e! e2uialent *olitico(military force!
and hence mu!t con!titute it!elf a! a *arty, organi!ed internally in the !ame way a! a State
a**aratu! with the !ame mechani!m! of hierarchie! and organi!ation of *ower!. 0hi!
con!e2uence i! heay with !ignificance. Secondly, there i! the 2ue!tion, much di!cu!!ed
within 8ar3i!m it!elf, of the ca*ture of the State a**aratu!: !hould thi! ,e con!idered a! a
!traight forward take(oer, accom*anied ,y a**ro*riate modification!, or !hould it ,e the
o**ortunity for the de!truction of that a**aratu!/ )ou know how the i!!ue wa! finally !ettled.
0he State a**aratu! mu!t ,e undermined, ,ut not com*letely undermined, !ince the cla!!
!truggle will not ,e ,rought to an immediate end without the e!ta,li!hment of the dictator!hi*
of the *roletariat. 7ence the State a**aratu! mu!t ,e ke*t !ufficiently intact for it to ,e
em*loyed again!t the cla!! enemy. So we reach a !econd con!e2uence: during the *eriod of
the dictator!hi* of the *roletariat, the State a**aratu! mu!t to !ome e3tent at lea!t ,e
maintained. Finally then, a! a third con!e2uence, in order to o*erate the!e State a**aratu!e!
which hae ,een taken oer ,ut ,ot de!troyed, it will ,e nece!!ary to hae recour!e to
technician! and !*eciali!t!. -nd in order to do thi! one ha! to call u*on the old cla!! which i!
ac2uainted with the a**aratu!, namely the ,orgeoi!ie. 0hi! clearly i! what ha**ened in the
FSS.. I don+t claim at all that the State a**aratu! i! unim*ortant, ,ut it !eem! to me that
among all the condition! for aoiding a re*etition of the Soiet e3*erience and *reenting the
reolutionary *roce!! from running into the ground, one of the fir!t thing! that ha! to ,e
under!tood i! that *ower i!n+t locali!ed in the State a**aratu! and that nothing in !ociety will
,e changed if the mechani!m! of *ower that function out!ide, ,elow and along!ide the State
a**aratu!e!, on a much more minute and eeryday leel, are not al!o changed.
o =ould we now turn to the human !cience!, and *!ychoanaly!i! in *articular/
0he ca!e of *!ychoanaly!i! i! indeed an intere!ting one. P!ychoanaly!i! wa! e!ta,li!hed in
o**o!ition to a certain kind of *!ychiatry, the *!ychiatry of degeneracy, eugenic! and heredity.
0hi! *ractice and theory, re*re!ented in France ,y 8agnan, acted a! the great foil to
*y!choanaly!i!. Indeed, in relation to that *!ychiatry ( which i! !till the *!ychiatry of today+!
*!ychiatri!t! ( *!ychoanaly!i! *layed a li,erating role, denouncing the com*licity of
*!ychiatri!t! with *olitical *ower. -gain, take what i! ha**ening in the <a!tern countrie!: the
*eo*le there who take an intere!t in *!ychoanaly!i! are not the mo!t di!ci*lined among the
*!ychiatri!t!. But the fact remain! that in our !ocietie! the career of *!ychoanaly!i! ha! taken
other direction! and ha! ,een the o,?ect of different ine!tment!. =ertain of it! actiitie! hae
effect! which fall within the function of control and normali!ation. If one can !ucceed in
modyfying the!e relation!hi*! of *ower into which *!ychoanaly!i! enter!, and rendering
unacce*ta,le the effect! of *ower they *ro*agate, thi! will render the functioning of the State
a**aratu! much more difficult. -nother adantage of conducting a criti2ue of relation! e3i!ting
at a minute leel would ,e to render im*o!!i,le the re*roduction of the form of the State
a**aratu! within reolutionary moement!.
o )our !tudie! of madne!! and the *ri!on! ena,le u! to retrace the con!titution of an
eer more di!ci*linary form of !ociety. 0hi! hi!torical *roce!! !eem! to follow an
almo!t ine3ora,le logic.
I hae attem*ted to analy!e how, at the initial !tage! of indu!tril !ocietie!, a *articular *unitie
a**aratu! wa! !et u* together with a !y!tem for !e*arating the normal and the a,normal. 0o
follow thi! u*, it will ,e nece!!ary to con!truct a hi!tory of what ha**en! in the nineteenth
century and how the *re!ent highlyDcom*le3 relation of force! ( the current outline of the ,attle
( ha! ,een arried at through a !ucce!!ion of offen!ie! and counter(offen!ie!, effect! and
counter(effect!. 0he coherence of !uch a hi!tory doe! not derie from the reelation of a
*ro?ect ,ut from a logic of o**o!ing !trategie!. 0he archaeology of the human !cience ha! to
,e e!ta,li!hed through !tudying the mechani!m! of *ower which hae ine!ted human ,odie!,
act! and form! of ,ehaiour. -nd thi! ine!tigation ena,le! u! to redi!coerone of the
condition! of of the emergence of the human !cience!: the great nineteenth(century effort in
di!ci*line and normali!ation. Freud wa! well aware of all thi!. 7e wa! aware of the !u*erior
!trength of hi! *o!ition in the matter of normali!ation. So why thi! !acrili!ing mode!ty 4pudeur5
that in!i!t! on denying that *!ychoanaly!i! ha! anything to do with normali!ation/
o 7ow do you !ee the intellectual+! role in militant *ractice/
0he intellectual no longer ha! to *lay the role of an adi!or. 0he *ro?ect, tactic! and goal! to ,e
ado*ted are a matter for tho!e who do the fighting. #hat the intellectual can do i! to *roide
in!trument! of analy!i!, and at *re!ent thi! i! the hi!torian+! e!!entila role. #hat+! effectiely
needed i! a ramified, *enetratie *erce*tion of the *re!ent, one that make! it *o!!i,le to locate
line! of weakne!!, !trong *oint!, *o!ition! where in!tance! of *ower hae !ecured and
im*lanted them!ele! ,y a !y!tem of organi!ation dating ,ack oer $G0 year!. In other word!,
a to*ological and geological !urey of the ,attlefield ( that i! the intellectual+! role. But a! for
!aying, +7ere i! what you mu!t do@+, certainly not.
o #ho or what i! it that co(ordinate! the actiitie! of the agent! of the *olitical ,ody/
0hi! i! an e3tremely com*le3 !y!tem of relation! which lead! one finally to wonder how, gien
that no one *er!on can hae conceied it in it! entirety, it can ,e !o !u,tle in it! di!tri,ution, it!
mechani!m!, reci*rocal control! and ad?u!tment!. It+! a highly intricate mo!aic. 9uring certain
*eriod! there a**ear agent! of liai!on. 0ake the e3am*le of *hilanthro*y in the early
nineteenth century: *eo*le a**ear who make it their ,u!ine!! to to inole them!ele! in other
*eo*le+! lie!, health, nutrition, hou!ing: then, out of thi! confu!ed !et of function! there
emerge certain *er!onage!, in!titution!, form! of knowledge: *u,lic hygiene, in!*ector!, !ocial
worker!, *!ychologi!t!. -nd we are now !eeing a whole *roliferation of different categorie! of
!ocial work.
6aturally it+! medice which ha! *layed the ,a!ic role a! the common denominator. It!
di!cour!e circulated one in!tance to the ne3t. It wa! in the name of medicine ,oth that *eo*le
came to in!*ect the layout of hou!e! and, e2ually, that they cla!!ified indiidual! a! in!ane,
criminal, or !ick. But there al!o emerged, out of the confu!ed matri3 of *hilanthro*y, a highly
dier!e mo!aic com*ri!ing all th!e! +!ocial worker!+...
0he intere!ting thing i! to a!certain, not what oerall *ro?ect *re!ide! oer allthe!e
deelo*ment!, ,ut, how, in term! of !trategy, the different *iece! were !et in *lace.
June 1975
,ack -> The #uthor Function (197&), E%cerpt
n dealing with the 4author4 as a function of discourse, we must consider the characteristics of a
discourse that support this use and determine its differences from other discourses. f we limit
our remarks only to those books or texts with authors, we can isolate four different features.
+irst, they are objects of appropriation$ the form of property they have become is of a particular
type whose legal codification was accomplished some years ago. t is important to notice, as
well, that its status as property is historically secondary to the penal code controlling its
appropriation. "peeches and books were assigned real authors, other than mythical or important
religious figures, only when the author became subject to punishment and to the extent that his
discourse was considered transgressive. n our culture and undoubtably in others as well
discourse was not originally a thing, a product, or a possession, but an action situated in a
bipolar field of sacred and profane, lawful and unlawful, religious and blasphemous. t was a
gesture charged with risks before it became a possession caught in a circuit of property values.
/ut it was at the moment when a system of ownership and strict copyright rules were
established (toward the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century) that the
transgressive properties always intrinsic to the act of writing became the forceful imperative of
literature. t is as if the author, at the moment he was accepted into the social order of property
which governs our culture, was compensating for his new status by reviving the older bipolar
field of discourse in a systematic practice of transgression and by restoring the danger of writing
which, on another side, had been conferred the benefits of property.
"econdly, the 4author-function4 is not universal or constant in all discourse. ;ven within our
civili&ation, the same types of texts have not always re-uired authors$ there was a time when
those texts which we now call 4literary4 (stories, folk tales, epics and tragedies) were accepted,
circulated and valori&ed without any -uestions about the identity of their author. Their
anonymity was ignored because their real or supposed age was a sufficient guarantee of their
authenticity. Text, however, that we now call 4scientific4 (dealing with cosmology and the
heavens, medicine or illness, the natural sciences or geography) were only considered truthful
during the 'iddle #ges if the name of the author was indicated. "tatements on the order of
46ippocrates said...4 or 42liny tells us that...4 were not merely formulas for an argument based
on authority$ they marked a proven discourse. n the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a
totally new conception was developed when scientific texts were accepted on their own merits
and positioned within an anonymous and coherent conceptual system of established truths and
methods of verification. #uthentication no longer re-uired reference to the individual who had
produced them$ the role of the author disappeared as an index of truthfulness and, where it
remained as an inventor,s name, it was merely to denote a specific theorem or proposition, a
strange effect, a property, a body, a group of elements, or a pathological syndrome.
#t the same time, however, 4literary4 discourse was acceptable only if it carried an author,s
name$ every text of poetry or fiction was obliged to state its author and the date, place, and
circumstance of its writing. The meaning and value attributed to the text depended upon this
information. f by accident or design a text was presented anonymously, every effort was made
to locate its author. 0iterary anonymity was of interest only as a pu&&le to be solved as, in our
day, literary works are totally dominated by the sovereignty of the author. (1ndoubtedly, these
remarks are far too categorical. 5riticism has been concerned for some time now with aspects of
a text not fully dependent upon the notion of an individual creator$ studies of genre or the
analysis of recurring textual motifs and their variations from a norm ther than author.
+urthermore, where in mathematics the author has become little more than a handy reference
for a particular theorem or group of propositions, the reference to an author in biology or
medicine, or to the date of his research has a substantially different bearing. This latter
reference, more than simply indicating the source of information, attests to the 4reliability4 of
the evidence, since it entails an appreciation of the techni-ues and experimental materials
available at a given time and in a particular laboratory).
The third point concerning this 4author-function4 is that it is not formed spontaneously through
the simple attribution of a discourse to an individual. t results from a complex operation whose
purpose is to construct the rational entity we call an author. 1ndoubtedly, this construction is
assigned a 4realistic4 dimension as we speak of an individual,s 4profundity4 or 4creative4 power,
his intentions or the original inspiration manifested in writing. .evertheless, these aspect of an
individual, which we designate as an author (or which comprise an individual as an author), are
projections, in terms always more or less psychological, of our way of handling texts: in the
comparisons we make, the traits we extract as pertinent, the continuities we assign, or the
exclusions we practice. n addition, all these operations vary according to the period and the
form of discourse concerned. # 4philosopher4 and a 4poet4 are not constructed in the same
manner$ and the author of an eighteenth-century novel was formed differently from the modern
+rom +oucault, 'ichel. 4What is an #uthor34 Trans. :onald +. /ouchard and "herry "imon. n 0anguage, 5ounter-
'emory, 2ractice. ;d. :onald +. /ouchard. thaca, .ew %ork: 5ornell 1niversity 2ress, ?@DD. pp. ?EB-?ED.
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