Territoriality of heterotopia: Threshold as a condition of heterotopian space in the case of Emek district, Bursa

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018




The ideal city and the ideal society have constituted one of the most fundamental subjects in the literature of urbanism. Although the concept of Utopia has been depicted in the literary works in the beginning, the quest of ‘the ideal’ then evolved over time and became one of the basic subjects of the planning. In the context of urbanism, the utopian way of thinking encourages the building of a better urban life for all the people in the society by overcoming the problems of the current system through spatial interventions. However, in order to reach ‘the good’ for all, the society must be treated in a holistic manner, which, in turn, brings the danger of totalitarianism. Additionally, the ‘goodness’ and ‘ideality’ are relative concepts. Therefore, any effort to reach an ideal for everyone is far from reality. On the other hand, the notion of heterotopia, which was elaborated by the French Philosopher Michel Foucault (1984) against the unreal spatiality of utopia, is entirely based on the reality. As a medical term, heterotopia refers to an exceptional hybrid situation that a cell or a tissue is created in a different anatomical zone instead of its original region. Establishing an analogical link between this anatomic hybridity and spatial experiences, Foucault (1984) regards heterotopia as a space of ‘otherness’ which can be found in every society in different forms and functions. This unique systemic structure, which has its own spatial relations in its own context, is called heterotopology. Although it is not given explicitly in Foucault’s (1984) definition and discussion, it can be argued that one of the basic qualities of heterotopology is the territoriality of hybrid socio-cultural hegemonic ‘enclaves’ which can co-exist within the spatiality of threshold. Stavrides (2010) regards the threshold experience as an ‘intermediary’ spatiality which provides a common ground for encounter among different identities of the society. In this sense, the contextualization of the threshold in terms of the inside-outside relationship of the socio-cultural enclaves would enable the discussion on the problem of urban segregation within the context of heterotopology. The study argues that the spatiality of threshold constitutes a fundamental condition of heterotopology. In the study, the configurational structure of the potential thresholds and their formations offered by the common spaces are revealed by using the ‘space-syntax analysis’ in the case of Emek District, which located at the periphery of Bursa. The study area includes several character areas accommodating different cultures, and common spaces carrying the potential of threshold where social tensions between different groups are mediated. As a result of the field study, the patterns of the utilization of common spaces are compared with the potential movement patterns given by the syntax of the fabric, and a typological discussion is carried out over the threshold. The main purpose of the research is to analyze the relationship between the operation of the threshold in different forms and functions, and the configurational structure of the space in a heterotopian context. In this framework, the study discusses the problem of socio-spatial segregation from a morphological perspective by reframing heterotopology in the social context of urban space.