Other spaces, other voices : heterotopic spaces in island narrative
Storment, Ryan Lee
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Islands periodically reappear and manifest themselves within our cultural texts as locations for fantasy and the exotic. On the surface they are often remote locations that simply serve as interchangeable backgrounds, but their reoccurrence is usually due to their unique ability to be molded. They are served up as blank slates, much like early visions of the western United States, where we meet the Other or encounter exotic voices. Because of this, islands are perceived as spaces with no Western historical narrative or structure so it becomes simply to move Western structures and complex issues to them to allow for more focused discussions. Michael Foucault, Philip Fisher, Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guatarri's discussions about space help us to see the structures that have been placed on these islands and allow a greater understanding of issues placed there.As re-shapeable forms, islands become sites for conflict that often include competing spatial and socio-spatial regimes. The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, and The Island of Dr. Moreau highlight conflicts between the premodern, modern, and postmodern organizations of space; contention is through smooth versus striated or the free flowing versus the controlled. Dominant and resistant voices reinforce islands as sites where the difference in these spatial and socio-spatial regimes are accentuated. An element that is essential to most island narrative is our inability to find these island sites within the real world. Regardless of our ability perceivably locate all islands, the popularity of these sites continue and the concept of the island is transported to space. In narratives such as Star Wars, planets and spaceships reuse the island structure to reveal similar contesting spatial and socio-spatial regimes. Through these conflicts, island narratives are driven just as much by exotic and resistant voices as the dominant ones, and these resistant voices become a more integral part of space narratives.