Urban Wilderness: Dystopia and Heterotopia in the Contemporary City


This text deals with possible ways of conceptualizing the phenomenon of urban wilderness. Urban wilderness refers to a wasteland in a contemporary city which has lost its original use and function, and which is slowly acquiring the character of nature. One possible explanation for the prevailing negative perception and representation of these places is that their existence is blurring the distinction between nature and culture. This distinction is said to be an important structuring element in the Western system of thinking. It is also thought that urban wilderness disturbs the order of the modern city and its tendency to structure and separate the functions of space. In this text, i am concerned with two possible ways of refl ecting this ambivalent character of urban wilderness. My paper is based on theoretical work describing urban wilderness as dystopia, a symbol of the end of modernity, or as heterotopia, an opposition to the order of the modern city. In the last part of the text, i refl ect the main points in the critique of this conceptualization

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This paper was published in University of West Bohemia Digital Library.

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