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Monday, December 08, 2008

It's a Travelodge night...
Keeping up the tradition of moving around the country in my ales, I'm starting tonight with a bottle of Barnsley Gold from the Acorn Brewery, which is rather delicious.
Earlier tonight, it was over to Sheffield University to see Doreen Massey's lecture as part of the Centenary series of Sheffield University's Geography Department. I was planning to send some Twitter messages and blog as well, but there was no mobile signal (drat) so below are the notes that I made during the lecture, which explored issues surrounding our concept of 'place'. They may make some sense to some of you - I'll do something more with them at some point.

Doreen Massey

Beyond critical: it is possible to make a difference

Voices of places: meanings of place – places as victims of globalisation – social fora: ‘fighting back’ ?

Place can be divisive – requires a boundary: an ‘inside’ & an ‘outside’ – parochialism, and ‘othering’

Identity defined as an antagonistic reaction to the ‘outside’.

Defining means ‘drawing a line’, but doesn’t mean all relations which define a place are antagonistic.

Places can have relations with other which challenge neo-liberalism.

Stories of interdependence: opportunities for radical politics.

3 places:

High North

Images often as ‘victim’ – expansion of Stansted – public enquiry – impacts – connect to Mystery resource

Travelling to develop solidarities against climate change e.g. Many Strong Voices

London: “World City” book

Positioning of London in relation to global forces not correct: responsibility as well as a ‘victim’... Involved in dissemination of neo-lib

Politics of responsibility

Ken Livingstone: discussion – we need to go beyond the place itself...

Venezuela

World map: “I asked for a map with Venezuela on”

Cultural exchange.. Caracas: oil production to London... – used for public transport / reduced fares for people on benefits – in exchange for advice: transport planning, waste disposal, environment - consultancy

Connection made – redistribution of the benefits: a politics of relations – bypasses the market – cooperation rather than competition – small scale: not challenge

Stands for a wider proposition: that there could be alternative forms of globalisation and relationships - had the potential to change the identities of the cities: as ‘equals’ – not the usual binary relationships of local/global – “the global is made in places” “the global is within the place itself” – similar to development of Fairtrade Towns

Can be made powerless and guilty for food we eat and what we wear. Recognition of interdependence as an opportunity.

Conflict in the 2 places: press reaction in Venezuela questioned why ‘poor’ country should give oil to a ‘rich’ city

Care and responsibility starts with the family and works ‘outwards’...

London: criticism in media – “third world” – disrupted identity of London & idea of multicultural city.

To be really ‘loyal’ to a place we need to challenge its current form and ‘renegotiate’ its place – a lot of negotiation because of the ‘thrown-togetherness’/ physical proximity: have established certain ‘rules’ – need to open them up to contest (politics)

Election: Boris Johnson – cancelled the agreement

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez – 1998

2006-7: “A socialism of the 21st Century” – importance of oil: nationalised industry since 1976 – different relation than to the power of finance in the UK – project work : polyclinics, education – also looking to develop links with Cuba, China etc. (Bolivarian revolution) – tried to give more recognition to indigenous people.

Politics beyond place

High north – Alaska – oil production important here too: different position in social conditions: oil companies take profits out of Alaska, and oil prices locally are high / low incomes

Chavez sends heating oil to Alaska: over 150 tribal communities get free heating oil, and 40% discount to everyone

Agreement signed in Kotzebue – George Bush opened up the area for oil exploitation (legislation passed before Obama takes office) – struggle in Sakhalin: oil project – biggest in the world, and contested

Indigenous solidarity or making a political point ? – debate increased awareness of Venezuela – only 4 from over 400 villages said “no”

Historically Venezuela has garage chain in USA – money donated to tribal groups within the USA - annually negotiated – 100 gallons of free oil, and “Citizen’s Energy corporation” – problems with identifying households in Alaska

Not a smooth flow of capital which is how globalisation is often viewed: effort taken to add one extra address to database...

Debate on relations between places: are market relations the only acceptable ones ? Alaska has always been dependent on grants – gifts reinforce a culture of dependency..

Battle against extraction - Map: CASIN, 2005 – NGOs

London: 25% of stock exchange connected with oil & gas – global connections with industry – social activism: Platform – reminding Londoners of relationship between London and other places – link with oil companies – challenging companies’ social license to operate

Wider awareness and “embeddedness” – local not the alternative – changing spaces


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