PODCAST | Heterotopia: holding a mirror to indifference

This is part of the Festival of Democracy 2015FoD-blockNEWorange

Imagine you had no identity, no right to work, to study, travel and practise your religion – because you belong nowhere, and have no means to prove who you are, or where you are from. If you managed to escape discrimination and violence, your only possible future, if you didn’t drown at sea, would be in a detention camp.

Now imagine the lives of the Rohingya, whose present fate many people in Australia greet with indifference. This session aims to reflect on the roots of this indifference. It holds up a mirror to ourselves, just as Michel Foucault recommended when he described the concept of heterotopia. A utopia, he pointed out, is a placeless place that gives us visibility. A heterotopia, by contrast, functions to disrupt our sense of place, to challenge our beliefs and values, to remind us that being oblivious to the suffering of others is neither normal nor timeless.

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