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robertogreco : doreenmassey   4

About Litmap
[See also:
http://barbarahui.net/litmap/ ]

[via: "This brilliant mapping of Sebald's The Rings of Saturn by @barbarahui shows/ tracks the multiple, frantic displacements of the journey, allowing you to zoom into the landscape but also see its global connections.
Key viewing for #TheReadingsofSaturn
Here: http://barbarahui.net/litmap/ "

https://twitter.com/RobGMacfarlane/status/1016962352217018368 ]

"I created Litmap as part of my Comparative Literature PhD dissertation project. It's a digital map that plots all of the places that are mentioned in W.G. Sebald's novel, The Rings of Saturn.

Litmap is featured in the documentary Patience (After Sebald), directed by Grant Gee. You can also read about the project in this New York Times ArtsBeat post.

If you'd like to read more about the theoretical context for Litmap, following is something I wrote in 2009 to explain the project in the context of my dissertation.

Litmap was created with the goal of enabling humanities scholars to read literature spatially – a mode of reading which I believe to be crucial to understanding contemporary literature and textuality at large today. The Litmap application aims to leverage the strengths of the digital computing platform to present literary narratives in a way that opens up spatial readings of those texts.

If you'd like to read more about the theoretical context for Litmap, following is something I wrote in 2009 to explain the project in the context of my dissertation.

Litmap was created with the goal of enabling humanities scholars to read literature spatially – a mode of reading which I believe to be crucial to understanding contemporary literature and textuality at large today. The Litmap application aims to leverage the strengths of the digital computing platform to present literary narratives in a way that opens up spatial readings of those texts.

What is meant by spatial?

Taking up the call of spatial thinkers such as Henri Lefebvre, Edward Said, Edward Soja, and Doreen Massey, as well as literary “cartographer” Franco Moretti, spatiality is here conceived of in all of its conceptual complexity. This includes a consideration of the geospatial shape of the narrative, i.e. the contours that emerge when the place names mentioned in the texts are plotted on geospatial map image. It also includes attention to the more subjective, slippery—yet no less real—spatialities at work in each narrative, including the scale of global and local place, and the networks of colonialism, imperialism, migration, language, and media that exist across and between those places. The project seeks to represent and examine these networks as they exist in and around literature. Indeed, the network emerges as a crucial spatial paradigm for understanding contemporary narratives.

What is meant by geospatial?

By definition, geospatial is an adjective used to describe or denote data that is associated with a particular location. This is geographical space and place as conceived of in a positivist, empirical way. In other words, the earth is thought of as a spherical surface on which one can plot any location with a certain degree of mathematical accuracy using, for example, numerical latitude and longitude coordinates. The use of numerically precise data means that a range of geospatial calculations can be performed on a given geographical dataset. This is typically carried out via the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), or computer software specializing in the processing of geographical datasets.

Given the utility and free availability of geospatial applications like Google Maps and Google Earth, GIS technology and its attendant geographical representations are becoming rapidly entrenched in our cultural consciousness. Those of us who live in well-mapped locales and have access to networked personal computing technology are growing accustomed to viewing and navigating our surroundings via the use of these geospatial applications.

What is meant by network?

As with the concept of spatiality, the network is here conceived of in both concrete and abstract terms. It includes not only physical networks (wired communications networks, transportation networks, etc.) but also the colonial, imperial, migratory, and linguistic networks constituted by the movements of people, goods, and ideas across geographical space. Additionally, it includes imaginary networks such as those that exist in Stephen Hall’s novel The Raw Shark Texts in which people throw off both tangible and intangible linguistic traces of themselves, and are hunted down via this stream of bait by terrifyingly real yet otherworldly “primordial thought sharks.” In Hall’s novel, each person’s linguistic output is conceived of as a fundamentally material extension of the subject. Litmap allows the reader to map both the concrete geospatial aspects of the novel (“Hull, Leeds, Sheffield” (104)) and also the “un-space” that exists within its spatial imaginary: a labyrinth of tunnels underground, and a trip to a parallel thought world.

Networks are in the general sense “an arrangement or structure with intersecting lines and interstices resembling those of a net” (“Network, N,”). At the interstices exist the nodes of the network. This paradigm of the network is recognizable in many contexts. On geographical maps, the lines are the railroad tracks, roads, and flight paths; the nodes are the stations, villages, towns, and cities (i.e., geographical places) where those lines intersect. The Internet is of course a famous example of a communications network. An early Internet map shows connections between different locations “on the network”: the lines represent data wires, while the nodes are the locations at which those wires meet and the digital data they carry is processed.

The kinds of networks illustrated via Litmap are numerous, with each narrative containing one or often multiple networks, each of a unique configuration. Depending on the kind of spatial information given in each narrative, these networks are plotted with varying degrees of geospatial precision. Sometimes it is possible to map a piece of literature almost entirely down to the street level, while at other times the text requires much more subjective and abstract spatial renderings.

What is meant by place?

In keeping with spatial theorist Doreen Massey, I contend that places be defined as the nodes that are constituted by the intersection of multiple lines or paths of social networks. As she describes it:
[W]hat gives a place its specificity is not some long internalized history but the fact that it is constructed out of a particular constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together at a particular locus. If one moves in from the satellite towards the globe, holding all those networks of social relations and movements and communications in one’s head, then each ‘place’ can be seen as a particular, unique, point of their intersection. It is, indeed, a meeting place. Instead then, of thinking of places as areas with boundaries around, they can be imagined as articulated moments in networks of social relations and understandings, but where a large proportion of those relations, experiences and understandings are constructed on a far larger scale than what we happen to define for that moment as the place itself, whether it be a street, a region, or even a continent. (28)

Thus places denoted by markers on map images are not fixed, immobile, bounded entities with unified histories, but rather dynamic, socially defined “moments.” While it is true that each latitude and longitude point would still exist on the map without an attached pin (or place), it is crucial to understand that these mathematically-defined coordinates do not give place its particularity, nor did that place as place exist a priori. Rather, it is the fact of the intersection of various social networks at that location which give it its very definition as place. As Massey argues, localities do have specificity, but – and this is crucial – they are defined on a far larger scale than that of their geospatially immediate bounded surroundings.

The built-in ability of digital mapping interfaces to zoom in for a local view and out for a global view, coupled with the ability to programmatically draw connecting lines between places based on certain predefined criteria, make for a platform inherently adept at representing the local-global, networked nature of space and place that Massey so compellingly argues for. The user of Litmap can therefore zoom in to examine the particularities of a place mentioned in a text and then zoom out to look at the way in which it is connected to other locations within that text’s spatial imaginary.

Works Cited
Hall, Steven. The Raw Shark Texts. New York: Canongate, 2007.

Massey, Doreen. "A Global Sense of Place." Marxism Today June 1991: 24-29.

“Network.” . Def. A.2.a. The Oxford English Dictionary. Web. 28 October 2009. <http://dictionary.oed.com/>."
litmap  barbarahui  literature  digitalhumanities  wgsebald  theringsofsaturn  maps  mapping  space  spatial  geospacial  networks  doreenmassey  stevenhall  geography  books  gis  henrilefebvre  edwardsid  edwardsoja  francomoretti 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary | Doreen Massey | Opinion | The Guardian
"At a recent art exhibition I engaged in an interesting conversation with one of the young people employed by the gallery. As she turned to walk off I saw she had on the back of her T-shirt "customer liaison". I felt flat. Our whole conversation seemed somehow reduced, my experience of it belittled into one of commercial transaction. My relation to the gallery and to this engaging person had become one of instrumental market exchange.

The message underlying this use of the term customer for so many different kinds of human activity is that in all almost all our daily activities we are operating as consumers in a market – and this truth has been brought in not by chance but through managerial instruction and the thoroughgoing renaming of institutional practices. The mandatory exercise of "free choice" – of a GP, of a hospital, of schools for one's children – then becomes also a lesson in social identity, affirming on each occasion our consumer identity.

This is a crucial part of the way that neoliberalism has become part of our commonsense understanding of life. The vocabulary we use to talk about the economy is in fact a political construction, as Stuart Hall, Michael Rustin and I have argued in our Soundings manifesto.

Another word that reinforces neoliberal common sense is "growth", currently deemed to be the entire aim of our economy. To produce growth and then (maybe) to redistribute some of it, has been a goal shared by both neoliberalism and social democracy. In its crudest formulation this entails providing the conditions for the market sector to produce growth, and accepting that this will result in inequality, and then relying on the redistribution of some portion of this growth to help repair the inequality that has resulted from its production.

This of course does nothing to question the inequality-producing mechanisms of market exchange itself, and it has also meant that the main lines of struggle have too often been focused solely on distributional issues. What's more, today we are living with a backlash to even the limited redistributional gains made by labour under social democracy. In spite of all this, growth is still seen as providing the solution to our problems.

The second reason our current notion of wealth creation, and our commitment to its growth, must be questioned is to do with our relationship with the planet. The environmental damage brought about by the pursuit of growth threatens to cause a catastrophe of which we are already witnessing intimations. And a third – and perhaps most important – defect of this approach is that increased wealth, especially as measured in the standard monetary terms of today, has few actual consequences for people's feelings of wellbeing once there is a sufficiency to meet basic needs, as there is in Britain. In pursuing "growth" in these terms, as a means to realise people's life goals and desires, economies are pursuing a chimera.

Instead of an unrelenting quest for growth, might we not ask the question, in the end: "What is an economy for?", "What do we want it to provide?"

Our current imaginings endow the market and its associated forms with a special status. We think of "the economy" in terms of natural forces, into which we occasionally intervene, rather than in terms of a whole variety of social relations that need some kind of co-ordination.

Thus "work", for example, is understood in a very narrow and instrumental way. Where only transactions for money are recognised as belonging to "the economy", the vast amount of unpaid labour – as conducted for instance in families and local areas – goes uncounted and unvalued. We need to question that familiar categorisation of the economy as a space into which people enter in order to reluctantly undertake unwelcome and unpleasing "work", in return for material rewards which they can use for consuming.

This is a view that misunderstands where pleasure and fulfilment in human lives are found. Work is usually – and certainly should be – a central source of meaning and fulfilment in human lives. And it has – or could have – moral and creative (or aesthetic) values at its core. A rethinking of work could lead us to address more creatively both the social relations of work and the division of labour within society (including a better sharing of the tedious work, and of the skills).

There are loads of other examples of rarely scrutinised terms in our economic vocabulary, for instance that bundle of terms clustered around investment and expenditure – terms that carry with them implicit moral connotations. Investment implies an action, even a sacrifice, undertaken for a better future. It evokes a future positive outcome. Expenditure, on the other hand, seems merely an outgoing, a cost, a burden.

Above all, we need to bring economic vocabulary back into political contention, and to question the very way we think about the economy in the first place. For something new to be imagined, let alone to be born, our current economic "common sense" needs to be challenged root and branch."
doreenmassey  via:anne  neoliberalism  capitalism  ideology  language  customers  2013  markets  growth  inequality  labor  socialdemocracy  economics  vocabulary  howwetalk 
march 2016 by robertogreco
12 | March | 2016 | visual/method/culture: remembering Doreen
"I’m writing this short post after reading an email from OU colleague Steve Pile confirming that Doreen Massey did indeed pass away on the afternoon of Friday 11 March 2016. I saw earlier tweets to the same effect and tweeted myself, and now it’s for sure.

Doreen has accompanied all of my academic life. I read her book Spatial Divisions of Labour as an undergraduate (still an outstandingly important text, in my view). She examined my PhD thesis (and told me I needed to write a methods section at the end of it….). I met her on and off as I worked on feminist and cultural geographies in London and Edinburgh after my PhD. I joined The Open University in 1999 and in the following years I worked with her on an OU geography module on globalisation and on a small research project on public art in Milton Keynes. And even after she retired, for some time anyway, she often was in her OU office just down the corridor from mine, working on talks and projects and politics, always ready to discuss and engage.

She wasn’t always an easy person to work with. She could be very critical; she could insist on things being done her way; she didn’t like any kind of admin. She could also, far more often, be incredibly warm – to everyone and anyone, absolutely – and she was one of the most charismatic speakers I have ever heard. I remember her tiny frame absolutely filling one enormous lecture hall with energy and passion, extemporising from handwritten notes, intensifying the entire space. I can hear her voice now, and her laughter.

Some of her ideas – spatial divisions of labour, relationality, a global sense of place, throwntogetherness – have transformed huge swathes of human geography and beyond. So many of us simply would not be doing what we do and how we do it without her work, even if many of us are doing different things from her. Her work transformed human geography’s ideas, but she also transformed many scholars as people, supporting them, pushing them, inspiring them. And that’s not even to start on her political work, from the Greater London Council to the Kilburn Manifesto.

I think it’s that massive humanity – including its flaws – that made me realise, this morning, after reading those tweets, that it had literally never crossed my mind, even though I knew she was ill, that she might die. Her energy, commitment, the sheer intensity and consistency of her engagement, somehow made such an outcome an impossibility. But it’s happened and I feel a massive absence now, a silence.

My tweet said RIP. But actually, now, I don’t want to think of her resting in peace. I much prefer to think of her arguing on, being thoughtful and awkward and sometimes difficult, never ever taking things for granted, always thinking towards openness and a different kind of future."
doreenmassey  2016  obituaries  via:anne  argement  openness  future  relationality  geography  gillianrose  humanism  humanity  flaws  intensity  criticalthinking  criticism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary | Doreen Massey | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"Instead of an unrelenting quest for growth, might we not ask the question, in the end: "What is an economy for?", "What do we want it to provide?"

Our current imaginings endow the market and its associated forms with a special status. We think of "the economy" in terms of natural forces, into which we occasionally intervene, rather than in terms of a whole variety of social relations that need some kind of co-ordination.

Thus "work", for example, is understood in a very narrow and instrumental way. Where only transactions for money are recognised as belonging to "the economy", the vast amount of unpaid labour – as conducted for instance in families and local areas – goes uncounted and unvalued. We need to question that familiar categorisation of the economy as a space into which people enter in order to reluctantly undertake unwelcome and unpleasing "work", in return for material rewards which they can use for consuming.

This is a view that misunderstands where pleasure and fulfilment in human lives are found. Work is usually – and certainly should be – a central source of meaning and fulfilment in human lives. And it has – or could have – moral and creative (or aesthetic) values at its core. A rethinking of work could lead us to address more creatively both the social relations of work and the division of labour within society (including a better sharing of the tedious work, and of the skills)."
neoliberalism  language  words  work  labor  leisurearts  artleisure  growth  sustainability  pleasure  doreenmassey  customers  inequality  investment  expenditure  2013 
june 2013 by robertogreco

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