The Heterotopia of Walt Disney World: Post-Modernism and Consumerism


The “Heterotopia of Walt Disney World” is the title of a talk I gave at Philosophy for All in October 2009, as well as a paper published in the February 2010 edition of Philosophy Now magazine.

Below are the slides of the presentation I gave at the Philosophy for All Kant’s Cave. My aim was to introduce the concept of Heterotopia by Michel Foucault using the example of Walt Disney World. It allowed me to dig into Post-Modernist philosophy, involving philosophers such as Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco.

Around 50 people attended the conference. The Q&A session raised interesting questions. Is Walt Disney World a true symbol of the free market, knowing that everything in the parks is orchestrated by a central authority? Should we study the culture of Disney differently than the more traditional ones coming from theatre and literature for example?

I screened video archives during the presentation. This one provides a great insight into the original vision of Walt Disney World: its belief in the free market, happiness for all, and a certain kind of urbanism.

Here is another video about one of Disney’s most successful narratives: “It’s a small world”.