Doreen Massey, 1944-2016

One of the leading radical geographers of her generation has died

March 24, 2016
Obituary: Doreen Massey, 1944-2016

Doreen Massey was born in Manchester on 3 January 1944 and grew up on a large council estate before going on to an undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford followed by a master’s in regional science at the University of Pennsylvania.

She then took up a position at the Centre for Environmental Studies in London, although this was wound down after public funding was withdrawn when Margaret Thatcher came to power.

She therefore moved to the Open University in 1982 for the rest of her career. She retired as emeritus professor of geography in 2009 but remained prominent as an activist, public speaker and commentator both in the mainstream media and in outlets such as the journal Soundings, which she co-founded with Stuart Hall and Michael Rustin in 1995.

A pioneering feminist geographer, Professor Massey had a notable impact on her discipline through texts such as Space, Place, and Gender (1994).

She went on to develop this into a wider critique of current forms of globalisation and uneven development. She set out the basic agenda in For Space (2005) and drew out some of the central political implications in World City (2007), which attacked the dominance of the financial sector in Britain and encouraged her readers to reflect on (and take responsibility for) the effect of the City of London on the rest of the world.

Politically engaged to the end of her life, Professor Massey co-edited After Neo-liberalism?: The Kilburn Manifesto (with Stuart Hall and Michael Rustin, 2015) and made some trenchant interventions in the debate on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

“Doreen Massey was required reading for decades of undergraduates (including me),” said Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography at Oxford.

“The first time I saw a very large auditorium at a geography conference filled beyond its limit was when she was speaking. And she spoke without notes, without slides – she could hold an audience in her hand.”

Professor Dorling also remembered a much more recent occasion when a group of students had occupied a university building in Oxford “demanding that the university take the housing crisis in the city seriously”. Professor Massey was “put on first very early to get a crowd for the entire day’s events, which ended late at night with music and comedy. The hall filled with students and locals, with children and people carrying babies, with people carrying leaflets and those who were just curious. Again, it was full.”  

Professor Massey died on 11 March.

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related universities

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest