Normalising jurisdictional heterotopias through place branding: The cases of Christiania and Metelkova
by Nikos Ntounis* and Jenny Kanellopoulou**
Whereas a utopia refers to an idealised, but probably non-existent, ‘perfect’ place or society, and a dystopia as the opposite, a bad place or society in collapse, the concept of a heterotopia, as discussed by French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault, refers to a place or society that is different, or other, a place that has many layers of meaning, but also a place or society that offers some sort of escape from authoritarianism or repression.
In this article Nikos Ntounis and Evgenia (Jenny) Kanellopoulou consider both legal and political issues associated with place branding through their research into ‘jurisdictional heterotopias’, and how these places can become normalised through place branding associations, with such normalisation leading to not only their mainstream acceptance, but also to ‘the potential nullification of the liberties their communities advocate’. Continue reading “IPM Research: Normalising jurisdictional heterotopias through place branding”→
Following up from our first blog entry on the normalisation of autonomous areas within urban centres, we embarked on a two week research trip in Slovenia and Denmark visiting the places in question, appreciating the communities that live and work in them, and engaging in fruitful discussions with them, as well as with the areas’ other stakeholders such as city representatives.
This blog entry is dedicated to the area of Metelkova Mesto, the semi-squatted cultural neighbourhood of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the attempts of the municipality, as well as the state of Slovenia to “broaden” the cultural zone surrounding the urban squat and create a cultural space where all stakeholders can meet and contribute to the place’s brand: apart from the autonomous squatted buildings, the city of Ljubljana operates the Museum of Contemporary Art, whereas the state of Slovenia has also founded the Ethnographic museum in the same quarter. From state, to municipal, to autonomous level, the broader cultural zone of Metelkova Mesto creates the impression of a place dedicated to the promotion of arts and culture, a valuable asset to the city and to the country itself. 
“Squatting” in an urban context is more often than not associated with groups of people occupying a place in order to claim rights and liberties outside the realms of “mainstream” society. There is no doubt that the residents and occupiers of these places are operating outside the law, outside municipal or state regulation, and even outside the aesthetics prescribed by the “mainstream” they wish to avoid. What happens however, when the mainstream-disturbing squat acquires a “brand” of its own and moves beyond the borders of nuisance to become a well-known attraction? Continue reading “How squatted areas become ‘normalised’ city elements: place branding, place marketing, and the law”→