It was with great sadness that colleagues and students heard the news that Doreen Massey, Emeritus Professor in the Social Sciences Faculty, died on Friday 11 March. Doreen was an eminent and pioneering intellectual, who received many awards and accolades at the highest level throughout her career.
Doreen developed an understanding of social space as something produced within society rather than something that existed outside of it. Her approach is one that has transformed the discipline of Geography since the 1980s. She also devoted much of her work to studying the spatial aspects of women’s lives, places and work.
A pioneer of feminist geography, she has influenced a whole generation through her work. She officially retired in 2009, but remained a frequent media commentator and a leading activist and thinker on the political left, especially through her association with the magazine Soundings.
Doreen’s commitment to the mission of The Open University and its students was total. She once turned down a Chair at Oxford University to stay with the OU.
The Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks, said:
“In her work for the University over many years and in her role as Emeritus Professor, the OU was fortunate to benefit from Doreen Massey's continued involvement, engagement and contribution. Doreen was one of the academics who have come to define the contribution of The Open University to society.”
Tributes have poured in on social media from all over the world, reflecting the high regard and deep affection in which Doreen was held. Doreen’s intellectual impact and social engagement has been immense, personally and professionally. Colleagues have lost a friend and an inspiration, and the discipline of Geography has truly lost a shining star. The university's thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.
The Open University will be flying its flag at half-mast in tribute.
Photo by Rubén G. Herrera