Doreen Massey

31 03 2010

We thought that we should mention that we were delighted to receive an e-mail from Doreen Massey a few weeks ago in response to our request to use her phrase “place beyond place” as the title for the symposium – luckily, she gave her approval!

Speaking of which, we have recently been reading Massey’s 2005 book, For Space.  The chapter on “The Elusiveness of Place” is particularly relevant to the ideas that we hope to explore in the symposium.  Within this chapter, Massey describes place as a collection of “stories-so-far”:

“One way of seeing ‘places’ is as on the surface of maps: Samarkand is there, the United States of America (finger outlining a boundary) is here. But to escape from an imagination of space as surface is to abandon also that view of place.  If space is rather a simultaneity of stories-so-far, then places are collections of those stories, articulations within the wider power-geometries of space.  Their character will be  a product of these intersections within that wider setting, and of what is made of them.  And, too, of the non-meetings-up, the disconnections and the relations not established, the exclusions.  All this contributes to the specificity of place.” (130:2005)

Place Beyond Place

18 02 2010

Hello and welcome to the Place Beyond Place blog.  This section will include updates on the development of the symposium between now and the event on April 28th alongside contextual information about some of the themes that we hope to explore.  Please feel free to add comments, suggestions and information, and we look forward to seeing you at the symposium!

This symposium has been developed by In Certain Places as a way to help us think about the role of public art within a globalised city.  Many of the ideas behind the symposium have come from the geographer Doreen Massey and her relational understanding of place.  Massey suggests that:

 ‘The uniqueness of a place, or a locality […] is constructed out of particular   interactions and mutual articulations of social relations, social processes, experiences and understandings, in a situation of co-presence, but where a large proportion of those relations, experiences and understandings are actually constructed on a far larger scale than what we happen to define for that moment as the place itself …Instead of thinking of places as areas with boundaries around, they can be imagined as articulated moments in networks of social relations and understandings.  And this in turn allows a sense of place which is extra-verted, which includes a consciousness of its links with the wider world, which integrates in a positive way the global and the local.’ 
Doreen Massey, Power-Geometry and a Progressive Sense of Place in Bird, Curtis, Putnam, Robertson and Tickner eds., Mapping the Future: Local Cultures, Global Change, Routledge, New York, p.66.

This understanding of place as a relational entity is explored by urban planners Stephen Graham and Patsy Healey in relation to the planning of towns and cities.  They argue that “planning must consider relations and processes rather than objects and forms” and “stress the multiple meanings of space and time” (Relational concepts of space and place: Issues for planning theory and practice).