Doreen Massey | Interview, documentary, and the work of translating theory

I have come across these two rather strange videos of/by Doreen Massey: an interview with Rem Koolhaas and a documentary on Mexico City she herself presents.

The first one was recorded in London’s Serpentine Gallery as part of the inaugural Interview Marathon—24 hours of conversations— in 2006. The interviewers and organizers were Koolhaas himself and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Well, I didn’t know that at the beginning—I was just looking for Massey material—and I was shocked when I heard that familiar Dutch accent. Nothing new here for those who know Massey’s work, although she provides an interesting answer to Koolhaas’ last question about the relation (or lack thereof) of her notion of space with that of architects. I was also wondering what Koolhaas, famous for his opportunistic critique of planning, thought each time Massey mentions the GLC…

The second video is a little not-to-be-missed television masterpiece for BBC2 from 1999. You will find a much younger Massey walking down the streets of Mexico City, talking (in Spanish) with inhabitants of informal settlements and exchange brokers, visiting factories and TV studios, even taking a (seemingly fictitious, but somewhat hilarious) ride in a helicopter and enjoying the view from above she usually criticizes. You even have a precedent for current ‘urban age’ discourses at the very beginning — but come on, this was 1999!

A very short piece, about 25 minutes, but it epitomizes Massey’s approach in a very straightforward fashion, blending diverse perspectives about economic, cultural and political issues around the question, ‘whose city is this?’. Some of the impressions about Mexico’s history reappeared later at the beginning of For Space. Recalling the only time I met her, over a memorable couple of beers in Madrid center, the passages with the indigenous interviewees are quintessentially Massey: fun and vibrant and warm, and at the same time engaged and penetrating.

I wish we could find this type of material more often. Some years ago I interviewed Stuart Elden and Derek Gregory (see English abridged version or Spanish version) and I asked them precisely about the task of translating strong theory into easier modes of reception in order to achieve broader dissemination; we all recognized how necessary but also how difficult this is.

Does anyone know about other cases/experiences that can be accessed on the internet, material similar to this or to Ed Soja’s participation in the documentary about LA, also for BBC2 (and apparently part of the same initiative by the Open University)?

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About asevillab

https://multipliciudades.org/acerca-de/
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