Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Young People's Geographies and the Action Plan

Off to Leicester early tomorrow - Norfolk is a hard place to get out of in a hurry - for a meeting related to one of the projects funded by the Action Plan for Geography. More on this to come after the event. It will involve some pupils from KES at a later date.

Do you want to give your brain a bit of a workout and check whether it is actually working ? If so, you need to get over to the Radio 3 website here today or tomorrow and choose to LISTEN AGAIN to a lecture which was broadcast a few days ago.
The lecture was delivered by Doreen Massey, a well known Geographer. Mrs. Clarke, I discovered today, had lectures from Doreen Massey when she was doing her Masters degree. The lecture is HERE
Here is the description - it very much fits the theme of MY PLACE.

Is The World Really Shrinking?

Professor Doreen Massey delivers the first Open University Radio Lecture.

The globalisation gurus tell us the earth is "shrinking", and that our world is now "flat". They say that distances are reducing, places are amalgamating, local culture is homogenising and geology is irrelevant.

Doreen Massey lays out a manifesto of why its time to put the geography back into such global thinking. Is the world really shrinking? Not as much as we'd like to think. And geographers, says Professor Massey, can explain why. We need to think more about our globe itself, if we want to understand the processes of globalisation. And Liverpool, home of Free Thinking, is a natural focus for some of these ideas.

She argues:
  • Distance hasn't been abolished - it's simply been crumpled and distorted.
  • Even then geography is about more than distance; it's about the existence of simultaneous variety - of peoples, places, and cultures.
  • The cultural gaps, the social distances, the gulfs in understandings of the world, despite everything, remain strong. And increasing inequality ensures this is so.
  • The very argument that we should all become the same is a vision provoking its precise opposite - the reassertion of local specificity.
  • In fact, we persistently evade the starkness of these differences. Imagining other cultures as stuck at the back of a historical queue - 'developing' countries waiting to become 'developed', for instance, diminishes their actually-existing difference now.

So, Doreen Massey asks, what kind of an identity of place can there be for cities like Liverpool in a globalised world?

What clearly doesn't work today is the romanticism of place that depends solely on a sense of the character growing somehow 'out of the soil'. Instead, places today are 'meeting places', where a host of different life stories become entangled in physical proximity. Each place is a particular mix, born out of a specific history, and has to be negotiated between rich and poor, between incomer and old-established resident.

As a result, says Doreen Massey, the local needs to look outward, as well as within. We need to rethink the notion of the identity of place, away from ideas about ownership and towards the recognition of responsibility - including towards the global relations and peoples - upon which any place depends. Liverpool's Slavery Museum is an attempt to recognise the global iniquities upon which its past splendour was built. Ought we not also to enquire into the wider conditions that underpin our present local places?

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