Original Research - Special Collection: Structural subjects - Church History and Systematic Theology

Church as heterotopia

Tanya van Wyk
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2684 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2684 | © 2014 Tanya van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 April 2014 | Published: 04 September 2014

About the author(s)

Tanya van Wyk, Department of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article reflects on an ecclesiastical institution as a spatial panoptic structure which domesticates representational space as a hierarchy of power devoid of a sensitivity for the ‘human Other’ (Autrui). The notion of heterotopia is promoted to deconstruct spatiality and linearity (time) as theological binary concepts. Being church as heterotopia does not deny the desire for the utopian dimension in religious thinking but holds on to utopian thinking amidst adversity and diversity. Therefore the concept of heterotopia is used to describe reconciliatory diversity, which is characteristic of an inclusive postmodern church which is a space where unity is not threatened by diversity, where the one is not afraid of the Other.


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