Impact agendas and public value

Back in February, Rachel Pain of Durham University presented a Keynote Lecture as part of a series organised by the Creating Publics project in the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) at the OU, on the theme of ‘Impacting publics: striking a blow or walking together?’. Her talk addressed the ambivalence of the impact agenda, as opening up some possibilities for people, for example, working in PAR traditions of social science. You can now listen to the lecture here, which also includes some bumbling comments from me as a ‘respondent’.

Critical spatial theory: my thoughts

UntitledI was conferencing last week, at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in LA. I was involved in two sessions, the first a panel discussion, organised by Scott Rodgers and Rosie Cox, on the uses of social media by academics, including reflections on how blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking can be used to carve out some new spaces of communication with academic and non-academic audiences. The second was on the theme of ‘defining the contours of a new 21st century critical urban theory’, a series of paper sessions organised by Chris Baker and Justin Beaumont. I presented a paper to the title of Where is the action? in which I tried to articulate some of the problems, as I see them, with prevalent approaches to critical urban theory, and critical spatial theory more broadly, and to say too something about some alternatives ways of proceeding. My paper was an attempt to articulate the whole arc of an argument that links, in my head at least, a series of pieces on urban theory, democracy, on ‘ethics’, on ‘class’, and other themes which I have written over the last two or three years (and have therefore already trailed on this blog), as well as some thinking done while developing an online Masters CPD course on critical spatial theory. So, the paper is rather allusive, shall we say.

Anyway, in the spirit of the first of these sessions, I thought I may as well post up the paper I presented in the second session – it will also be linked on the Things to Read page. This is the written paper which I spoke to at the conference – it has no references, although I imagine it as full of invisible hypertext links to other things I have written and to lots of things other people have written. I guess I’m thinking that since I said this all out loud at the conference, there is no good reason not to share these thoughts with the anonymous audience that may or may not be out there reading this blog – and to share it in much the same spirit as one does a ‘live’ conference performance, as a work in progress, awaiting further elaboration, and open to comments and questions….

The Cultural Logic of Late Marxism

IMG_1937I’m just making ready to fly off to the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, held this year in LA. It’s twenty years since I first attended one of these events, in Atlanta – held in the Hyatt Regency hotel, designed by John Portman, with it’s vast Alien-like Atrium. This time, it’s at the Westin Bonaventure hotel – also by Portman, and of course, made cultural-studies-famous by Fred Jameson. I have a feeling I might be the last geographer of a certain generation and theoretical inclination to not yet have visited this emblematically ‘postmodern’ site: for anyone out there who is attending and needs a refresher, here is a reminder of Jameson’s reading of the building.