‘Other’ Spaces in Ancient Civilization – Christian Asceticism as Heterotopia

Jan R. Stenger


This article discusses how classical studies can use the concept of heterotopia to analyze both physical and imagined spaces in ancient civilizations. Michel Foucault has adopted the notion of heterotopia to refer to spaces and places that exist in reality, but are strikingly different from the surrounding space and reflect, negate and invert it. First, Foucault’s criteria for such other spaces are presented, and the concept of heterotopia is critically discussed before applications in ancient studies are outlined. Finally it is shown, as an example, how Foucault’s approach can help to understand the ideology and practice of ascetic monasticism in the Greek East in Late Antiquity.


heterotopia; Michel Foucault; Christian asceticism; physical space; imagined space; relationships between spaces; discourse analysis

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eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies (ISSN 2192-2608)