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‘A true intellectual force in geography’: Tributes paid to renowned West Hampstead professor and activist

PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 March 2016

Doreen Massey, Emeritus Professor (Geography) in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University.

Doreen Massey, Emeritus Professor (Geography) in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University.

© Philip Wolmuth

A West Hampstead geographer who turned down an OBE has been described as “truly inspirational” and with a “passion for ideas” following news of her death last week.

The Open University announced the death of Professor Doreen Massey, who was an emeritus professor of geography at the university’s Centre for Geographical and Environmental Research.

Michael Pryke and Parvati Raghuram, from the centre’s OpenSpace research team described her as an “intellectual force” and added: “Doreen was a true intellectual force in Geography and the wider academic community not just in Britain but across the globe, as you are all too aware.

“Her loss will be felt by us as a Department, for we had the privilege of knowing her personally, and by the University, to which she was truly and wholly committed.

“Doreen’s passing will also be a profound loss to all those who were inspired by her work, which was always stimulating, not least because it was sharpened by her keen sense of political purpose and commitment. This is very sad, sudden and shocking news.”

Professor Massey was born in Manchester and, after winning a scholarship to Oxford University, graduated with a first class degree in Georgraphy.

During a career as an eminent academic, writer and public speaker, she earnt numerous awards and accolades and even reportedly turned down the offer of an OBE.

Since the announcement of her death, countless organisations have made moving tributes to Professor Massey’s life and work.

Queen Mary University, where Professor Massey was awarded an honorary degree, wrote that her insights into geography “quite literally, changed our understanding and inform teaching and research around the world” and the American Association of Geographers described Massey’s death as “a huge loss to geography and the many people who were inspired by her work.”

Left wing think tank The Centre for Labour and Social Studies also praised her work and said she was “one of the most influential thinkers on the left” and added: “With Doreen it was easy to forget we were in the presence of greatness, thanks to her warmth, her laughter and her generous spirit.

“She was very encouraging, and we all admired her immensely.”

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