Doreen Massey in Madrid

[This is my own English translation of the post at the multipliciudades blog found here in Spanish (forgive my errors)–note the event has passed, but still a great post].

The event of the month, without any doubt: Doreen Massey visits Madrid for the presentation of the book that geographers Abel Albet and Núria Benach have written on her, Doreen Massey. Un sentido global del lugar [Doreen Massey: A Global Sense of Place] recently published by Icaria Editorial. The event will be this Thursday the 7th at 19:00 in the Traficantes de Sueños bookstore (35 Embajadores street, #6), which with [its support of] this type of encounter once more affirms its vanguard positioning beyond the borders of conventional academia.

Those who follow the blog are familiar with the devotion that I [Álvaro Sevilla Buitrago] profess for Massey, who seems to me to be a key thinker for understanding not only Feminist geography but also the critical geography developed over the past thirty years more generally. That being said, you can’t risk missing her talk. Below is the text advertising the event:

DOREEN MASSEY: Espacio, lugar y política en el momento actual [The current state of space, place and politics]

How do we employ space in making politics? How do we employ politics in making space? With a long career as both intellectual and professor and characterized by a strong voice that is always present in political debates, Doreen Massey (Professor Emerita of the Open University, UK) is a central figure of the critical work on space. She has made key contributions to the concepts of space and place, to the relationships between space and power, to the connections between the local and the global, and regarding the responsibility of certain centers of power in relation to other spaces. These are matters of theoretical importance that await the remarkable talent for contemplation exercised by Massey, who uses everyday examples and clear words to imbue them with greater relevance and utility.  

Capital, Time and the City audio remix

How would an audio remix (3’30”) featuring David Harvey incorporated into a yo la tengo song along with some Steve Reich, Radiolab and a history lecture-podcast on the 19th-century city sound?

[the video got pulled from youtube, but you can listen to the audio on my homepage; click on the music tab on the top menu–there are some other remixes there drawing from lectures by/about Spanish authors.]

The Spanish City: 2012 KFLC Book Round Table

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Just back from Lexington where I took part in the following session featuring 5+ scholars with recent books out on the Spanish City (both Madrid and Barcelona were represented). I have to say that what I enjoyed most was the discussion format–I had never taken part in nor seen a session like this before (sad to say now, looking back), each presenter shared a concise 5-8 minute talk about the contents and approach of their book, and then a lively discussion followed, relating to larger issues in the field (well, better said, relating to the fields of both Hispanic Studies and Cultural/Urban Geography). Not sure if I can (or want to) go back to the traditional paper format. I had always been skeptical of the discussion format as advertised in other conference venues, but done right, it is much more interesting and productive than traditional papers by far. Kudos to Susan Larson and Malcolm Compitello for a great session. Although some of the books below are pending publication (those by Mercer and Santiáñez should be out soon), links are available below as appropriate:


Organized by: Susan Larson, U of Kentucky; Chaired by: Malcolm Compitello, U of Arizona

Speakers: Benjamin Fraser, C of Charleston; Nil Santiáñez, St. Louis U; Carlos Ramos, Wellesley C; Leigh Mercer, U of Washington; Nathan Richardson, Bowling Green State U 

This roundtable brings together scholars who have recently published monographs on the cultural politics of Madrid [and Barcelona]. Each book will be briefly presented, whereupon there will be an open discussion of the different theoretical and methodological possibilities as well as the challenges of researching the representation of urban space.

What I took away from the session was the energy of a geographical paradigm shift in the humanities. Discussions centered around the relevance of the humanities to urban planning, the possibility of resistance to capital, pedagogical approaches, the future of digital humanities research (particularly the hypercities project mentioned previously on this blog) and the potential for collaborative work (by undergrads, grad students and faculty) across disciplines. Of course the obstacles that limit these sorts of changes were also discussed, but energy and time can make all the difference.

Mark Raymond on City and Design

“Architecture is the making of the city over time.” – Italian architect Aldo Rossi

Mark Raymond, president of The Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects, argues that, in order to achieve a more equitable society, cities must design public spaces that facilitate greater participation. He criticizes the privileging of architecture as visual commodity over more pragmatic aspects of design like how a space will be used. Instead of creating cities that boast spectacular buildings designed by star architects, the focus should be on the production of spaces that bring people together. I wholeheartedly agree and recommend that you watch the video. However, I find it surprising that he mentions Barcelona as a blueprint to follow. What one can and cannot do in public space in Barcelona has progressively become more restricted since the passing of the Laws of Communal Living in 2005. Also, the image of Barcelona is tied precisely to famous architects like Richard Meier and Jean Nouvel and their respective buildings, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) and the Torre Agbar to name a few. The latest spectacular project to generate controversy has been the Hotel Vela by the highly acclaimed architect Ricardo Bofill. This luxury hotel is just another example of urban planning that does not benefit the people…