Of Utopias

RadioUtopia Episode 1: In the Penal Colony

Created By: Acacia Handell, Charles Rosen, Stella Frank, Terrence Arjoon

The concept of the ideal citizen is constructed by the institution within which the citizen is placed. Whether it be American democracy, or the Shaker community, there is always an ideal that members strive for. Thus, although there is the ideal citizen, there cannot be one ideal citizen; the concept is dependent on the context of the society, government, or community the individual is a member of.

Living parallel to the concept of the ideal citizen is the deviant. The deviant is the citizen who lacks moral and societal awareness, and has a general disregard for society. While most of the ideal citizens are converted deviants, some are unable or unwilling to be “productive” members of society. Unable to prove worth in other ways, the deviant is turned toward labor. If that citizen cannot benefit the community and has been deviated from the community’s goals, labor is enforced.

Just as societies employ architectural and spatial design to cultivate their ideal citizen, so too do they employ architectural and spatial design to control and contain those who deviate from this ideal. Yet architectures of containment operate quite distinctly in different societies; while some are imbued with reformist logic and seek to rehabilitate the deviant into an ideal citizen, some function to permanently mark and warehouse these social outcasts. The way social deviance is managed in these spaces exposes a great deal about the fundamental ideologies driving a society.


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