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A Swamp, a Forbidden Grove, a Ruined Factory: From Heterotopias of First Modernity to Dead Zones of Second Modernity

Sun, November 24, 10:00 to 11:45am, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Floor: 4, Pacific F

Abstract

Development was one of the principal beliefs of the 20th century. Two of its driving principles were the transformation of the landscape and the industrialization of the countryside. Across the world modernizing regimes drained swamps and built factories. Smokestacks and flat plains, totally transparent to the eye of the observer, tilled by tractors and harvested by combines became central symbols of development. Development implied the erasure of all the heterotopias that the state’s eye could not penetrate. In Eastern Europe, the socialist regimes, simultaneously erased and created artificial heterotopias. The fall of socialism created new “other spaces.” The ruins of the many industrial establishments across Eurasia are some of them. Each phase of modernity, each political order generates its “other spaces.” I will use the case study of the plain of Maliq, in southeastern Albania to explore the production of heterotopias during the 20th-century. Until the beginning of the century, the plain was covered by a swamp. The communists reclaimed it and built in Maliq a sugar factory. However, they also left a small grove, an enclosed space of privilege where only the communist elites hunted pheasants. After the collapse of the regime, the sugar refinery closed down. Now it is a heap of ruins, a remain of the old vision of industrialization. In the post-socialist era, the dead zone is what used to be the cradle of the modernizing vision of the age of development. The site that generated power and justified the reassure of heterotopia is not heterotopia.

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