Places without a place

new possibilities for 'airport fiction'

Tony Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


International flight provides a strange paradox: the modern jet passenger is plied with food and alcohol as if special, yet checked, monitored and identified as if a criminal. A long haul trip involves passing over time zones and countries (and borders and sovereignty), out of sync with day and night, and for much of the time without agency (literally belted into place, denied the usual electronic props of telephone and Internet). It is a place, or perhaps a non-place as defined by Marc Augé, ruled by the tension of being effectively guilty until you can demonstrate yourself innocent. Michel Foucault cited the boat or ship - 'a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea' - as the 'heterotopia par excellence.' This paper argues that the modern jetliner is an even more intense heterotopia, further disorienting with speed and the blurring of borders and time zones (also creating what Foucault calls a heterochrony, or slice of time that is often linked to a heterotopy). This paper further argues the metastable space entered at an airport and beyond (Fuller and Harley 5) provides untapped possibilities in fiction - and supports this argument with extracts from an extended short story/ novella by Tony Davis set entirely within a trip from Sydney to Zurich.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalNew scholar : an international journal of the humanities, creative arts and social sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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