JM Ramírez-Suassi: Fordlândia Interview – Heterotopia

Fordlândia is a place I’ve previously not heard of – it reminded me of Saltaire (Titus Salt’s workers town situated on the canal) but in the Amazon forest and built to supply the Ford Motor Company with rubber. The experimental town was short-lived and unsuccessful. Ramírez-Suassi’s discussion with American Suburx is a good read (Read on, but I mention it here mainly because of the way he talks about place (and an old industrial place at that):

“The photobook is a balance, at least its the intention, between this utopia (or maybe call it heterotopia, a concept made up by Foucault) and a life experience…”

From Fordlândia ©JM Ramírez-Suassi, source:

Heterotopia is a new word for me and seems pivotal to the book which, like my work aims to, pulls together different perspectives and ideas of a place. The word isn’t defined during the interview but it is explored in academic papers, for example, Heterotopia and Actor-Network Theory: Visualizing the Normalization of Remediated Landscapes . The concept is apparently not easy to interpret from Foucault’s original words ( referenced as Of other Spaces, 1986) but is concerned with the idea of incongruity within a space and contested meanings ‘enabling an out-of-placeness‘. This would counter attempts to place order on space. Even at this late stage, it is something I will explore further within CS as it has the potential to act as a glue between my writing on the disparate narratives of the canal and the concepts of how meanings are formed.

For me, heterotopia is a word that explains how I feel about and perceive the canal. It has the potential to help in articulating both my BoW and dissertation.