chapter  14
Atopia / Non-Place
BySiobhan Carroll
Pages 9

In comparing the inhospitable conditions of outer space to those found in a global megastore, Alex Viola and Daniel Hubbard are unintentionally latching on to concept of atopia, or non-place. The word "atopia" is also used to describe manmade environments that pose less tangible dangers to human identity. While the hostile elements of a natural atopia may seem to lend themselves to negative representations, natural atopias can also be represented positively, as generators of sublime aesthetic experience, or as temporary refuges for people excluded from social structures such as the nation. In literature, exiles, criminals, outcasts, refugees, rebels and monsters are often identified with natural atopias. To understand how the manmade atopia is thought to separate people from place, consider the Starbucks that opened in China's Forbidden City at the dawn of the new millennium. The most obvious referent for the kind of positive atopia Hongjohn Lin refers to is cyberspace.