Author ORCID Identifier
David Harvey and Michel Foucault have both theorized the concept “heterotopia” as a site of resistance. In this site, “informal” and mundane activities are enacted to resist measures and practices imposed by the state and finance capital. To Harvey, heterotopia is constituted by acts, affects, and meaning-making among residents in an urban space. To Foucault, heterotopia is formed when the wrong people showing up in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Both senses of heterotopia threaten spaces that the state designed to maximize capital flows in a global city.
Hong Kong is a good case study because recent crises such as the anti-extradition protests and COVID-19 lockdown have probed local populations to build a heterotopia to counter curtailed political, economic, cultural, and physical freedoms. Local residents adopted informal practices to challenge what space and time mean. Some examples are leaving post-it notes in public places that asked passersby to pause their daily commute; residents building informal networks of face mask production and distribution that interfere with the market.
Informal activities form a heterotopia with multiple spatialities and temporalities. Space issimultaneously physical and imaginary, material and digital. In this space, time is objective, relational, as well as subjective. These multiple spatialities and temporalities enable a more sustainable future for local residentsby unsettling one meaning of space and time in a global city.
Communication & Journalism Department
Lee, M. (2023, June). Heterotopia as a site of resistance in a global city: How informal practices can subvert the state and finance capital. Paper presented at Society for Hong Kong Studies, the University of Hong Kong.
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