Boedeltje, Freerk (2012). “The Other Spaces of Europe: Seeing European Geopolitics Through the Disturbing Eye of Foucault’s heterotopias”. Geopolitics , 17 (1), 1-24.
Despite the fact that Europe and the EU are two different concepts, they increasingly seem confused within EU policy discourse. By means of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) the EU drafts a desired future of a peaceful and prosperous Europe with recognisable imaginative symbolic and cultural characteristics. In the ENP documents the EU imagines its neighbouring countries as possible European space of influence, yet to be Europeanised. This rather Eurocentric belief that neighbouring states can be ‘Europeanised’ through the idea of conditionality and socialisation but without the prospective of becoming EU member has provoked an appeal for a different and more critical geopolitical perspective.
This article takes Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopias as inspiration for an alternative geopolitical view on Europe. Foucault’s concept of heterotopic spaces provides a critical framework that is capable of countering the geo-political imaginations of a universal Europe. Foucault has used the idea of a mirror as metaphor for the contradictions between the image and reality. In this context heterotopias are considered places that disturb the utopian image by means of complexity, contradiction and diversity. This article is in search of heterotopic spaces of resistance, that I have titled ‘The Other Spaces of Europe’. They are other spaces and seemingly resist the utopian projections of a common European neighbourhood. The drafts and ideas of the ENP gain new light against the background of these places of resistance that each in their own distinctiveness represents a certain impossibility of a final version of Europe.