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Inclusion as heterotopia: Spaces of encounter between people with and without intellectual disability

Author:

Herman P. Meininger

VU University Amsterdam, NL
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Abstract

The public space to which - in line with common definitions of inclusion - persons with intellectual disability are designated often turns out to be a space of discrimination. The aim of this study is to identify spaces of encounter. Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia - ‘other spaces’ – and its subsequent interpretations are used as an analytical tool for evaluating efforts to include persons with intellectual disability in society. In Foucault’s work ‘space’ refers to geographical places and to ‘sites’ that can be defined by sets of relations. Among these spaces are ‘counter-sites’ like large scale residential facilities for people with intellectual disability. Though policies of deinstitutionalisation aim at erasure of these places of exclusion, the results are often disappointing, largely because these policies ignore the analysis of power dynamics that install exclusionary processes and structures. Recent interpretations of the concept of heterotopia position the ‘other places’ in the middle of ordinary life as social spaces of encounter and dialogue between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’. Characteristics and practical conditions of such spaces of encounter are explored. These interpretations open up a new conceptualisation of inclusion in terms of niches in which encounter and dialogue are cultivated and an alternative social ordering can be exercised.

How to Cite: Meininger, H.P., 2013. Inclusion as heterotopia: Spaces of encounter between people with and without intellectual disability. Journal of Social Inclusion, 4(1), pp.24–44. DOI: http://doi.org/10.36251/josi.61
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Published on 28 Aug 2013.
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