Memory as Forgetting: The Role of Heterotopia in Showcase’s Continuum

Rama Hamarneh

University of Texas at Austin


Foucault’s heterotopia is a reflection of a joint experience, a place where what is experienced is at once real, and virtual. While Foucault’s primary example of the experience is a mirror, the genre of Science Fiction has imagined a series of future heterotopias primarily rooted in advances in technology and the preservation of memory. Showcase’s television program Continuum demonstrates one of these future, imagined heterotopias in the recording of everything one sees through their own eyes, recordings which can be accessed and replayed at an instant – a personal heterotopia, one which like Foucault’s mirror is at once real, and virtual, and for protagonist Kiera Cameron, a place to escape her current reality. In this presentation, I demonstrate the ways in which the television program Continuum utilizes the heterotopia of recorded memories in order to humanize the show’s main character, Kiera Cameron. The program takes place in the same space in both the future (2077) and the present (2012): Vancouver, B.C. However, despite being the same space, Kiera’s life is in the future, not the present. As she continues her life in the present, the viewer is exposed to more of her past life through her personal heterotopia and the replaying of her memories, a process through which she is humanized for the viewer. She utilizes the memories to connect to the future, to the life and family she once had. I will use Foucault’s conception of the heterotopia to demonstrate the importance of the Kiera’s ability to replay her memories, and outline specific examples which show the ways in which they humanize an otherwise inhuman, technologically superior protagonist.

2018 National Conference
Presentation type: