Forms of the balcony as heterotopias
Mihai Burlacu (Transilvania University, Brasov)
Paper short abstract:
In my paper I argue that at least several forms of the balcony can be considered heterotopias. I aim to emphasize a double-tiered description, based on Foucault (1967), Geertz (1973) and Arendt's (1989) groundworks, which may contribute to a reappraisal of the balconies` anthropological relevance.
Paper long abstract:
Upon reviewing the `balcony` in the anthropological texts that have it as their main subject, one cannot avoid noticing that this concept could be equated with places that are simultaneously connecting and differentiating multiple spaces and times. In my paper, I argue that balconies also entail juxtapositions between multiple meanings. Therefore, I assert that at least several forms or instances of the balcony can be considered heterotopias. Drawing upon Foucault`s (1967) `heterotopology`, I approach the ways in which balconies entail multi-layered encodings of meaning in places that are both openings and also `conceal curious exclusions` (Foucault 2008 : 21). Firstly, I review Foucault's groundwork and several theoretical developments regarding heterotopias. Next, I use Geertz's (1973) `thick description` of several forms of the balcony in order to ascertain whether they could be placed within Foucault's systematic description of heterotopias, or whether his `heterotopology` should be reconsidered from an epistemological and anthropological standpoint. Afterwards, I focus on the ways in which these instances of the balcony juxtapose the three forms of `vita activa`: labour, work and action, as they are portrayed by Arendt (1989: 159-167). Consequently, I aim to emphasize a double-tiered description, based on Foucault (1967) and Arendt's (1989) groundworks, and on De Cauter and Dehaene (2008) theoretical developments, which may ultimately contribute to a reappraisal of the balconies` anthropological relevance.