The IUP Journal of English Studies
Heterotopic Jerusalem: A Foucauldian Approach to Robert Stone’s Damascus Gate

Article Details
Pub. Date : Jun, 2019
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES11906
Author Name : Aya Akkawi
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : English Studies
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 14



How should we define Jerusalem as a space? In order to understand Jerusalem as a space, the relationship between experience and space and its embodiment of the forces that shape and articulate one’s experience of Jerusalem are examined by applying an analytical frame of Michel Foucault’s concept of “Heterotopia” on Robert Stone’s Damascus Gate. Thus, this paper highlights how we read Stone’s Jerusalem as a heterotopia. Understanding Jerusalem as a heterotopic space, then, offers a style of critical thinking that invites moral reflection on Stone’s characters’ versions, reactions, and experiences uniquely attached to Jerusalem as a space. The major characters in the novel are all visitors to the city; their experience of it oscillates between clarity and confusion. Thus, this paradoxical structure of feelings, which happens once Stone’s characters are exposed to Jerusalem as a heterotopia, reflects their association and interaction with Jerusalem as a space, articulates the characters’ experience within that space, and demonstrates how this heterotopic space provokes other experiences of the self and identity.3


Jerusalem obviously and most particularly is a city—a space—possessing captivating affects that can be construed, in ideological contexts, as an indication to religious and ethnic signs. Jerusalem is not a typical city per se; it is mythic, historical, utopian, exotic, ideal, modern, fragmentary, grotesque, and holy. Jerusalem can be all this. Or it can surely repudiate those manifestations to escape absolutism, decidability, and attachment. Once you think you can identify how the city is constructed in time and place, how it can embrace the sacred within its physical place and its liturgical spaces, the way it communicates and interacts with its residents and visitors, or even which history, religion, or culture it associates with, Jerusalem finds delight in opposing and resisting identification. Jerusalem, as Goldhill (2009, vii) puts it, is that “weird archeology of human imagination, hope, and disaster.”