Striated and Smooth Spaces



In thinking about spaces and places, I draw on the Leibnizian concept of the fold. Deleuze has used this concept to trace connections between spaces and bodies: the world folds into the self in different speeds and on a variety of levels and intensities affecting the ways we live, relate to other bodies and make sense of our worldliness. (The Fold) At the same time, however, we keep folding out into the world, Foucault in his later work argued, acting upon received knowledge, discourses and practices and thus moulding ourselves as subjects through the deployment of technologies of the self.

In this light, the different spaces and places that we live in, fold into our bodily activities as a series of movements, practices, thoughts and affects. As we fold out into the world, the spaces that we move through keep changing with us rather than staying lifeless, static or monolithic.

We are thus continuously surrounded by what Deleuze and Guattari (A Thousand Plateaus) have theorised as striated and smooth spaces. In their analysis, striated spaces are hierarchical, rule-intensive, strictly bounded and confining . ‘But there are always forces of deterritorialization, lines of flight’, Deleuze and Guattari (TP, 474) argue, ‘that shatter segmentarities and open up smooth spaces that are unmarked, dynamic and create conditions of possibility for transformations to occur’. Moreover, there is no dualistic opposition in this configuration; as a matter of fact, the world is being experienced as a continuum of striated and smooth spaces: ‘smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space.’


Please reference as: Maria Tamboukou (2018) ‘Striated and smooth spaces’,