||The more or less systematic and usually highly uneven ways in which different individuals and groups are positioned within networks of time-space flows and connections. These variable positions derive from the intimate connections that exist between productions of power and productions of space: thus spatial modalities of power are differentially engaged such that different actors have different degrees of freedom. The basic idea was proposed by Doreen Massey (1993) in a critique of David Harvey\'s concept of time-space compression. In her view, Harvey (1989) had emphasized the importance of class positions to such an extent that he failed to acknowledge the wider range of social positions that were involved, including gender: time-space compression \'needs differentiating socially\'. Similarly, Gregory (1994, p. 414) argued that the process needed to be differentiated spatially: there is a complex geography to time-space compression. The concept of a \'power-geometry\' speaks to these twin concerns.
Massey\'s intervention was intended as a feminist critique of Harvey\'s masculinism, and yet her illustration-sketches were by no means free of a masculinist imaginary. She introduced the idea of a \'power-geometry\' by appealing to what Donna Haraway (1991) called a \'God-trick\', thus:
Imagine for a moment that you are on a satellite, further out and beyond all satellites; you can see \'planet earth\' from a distance and, rare for someone with only peaceful intentions, you are equipped with the kind of technology that allows you to see the colours of people\'s eyes and the number on their number-plates. You can see all the movement and tune-in to all the communication that is going on, Furthest out are the satellites, then aeroplanes, the long haul between London and Tokyo and the hop from San Salvador to Guatemala City. Some of this is people moving, some of it is physical trade, some is media broadcasting. There are faxes, e-mail, film-distribution networks, financial flows and transactions. Look in closer and there are ships and trains, steam trains slogging laboriously up hills somewhere in Asia. Look in closer still and there are lorries and cars and buses and on down further and somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa there\'s a woman on foot who still spends hours a day collecting water â€¦ Different social groups and different individuals are placed in very distinct ways in relation to these flows and interconnections. (Massey, 1993, p. 61)In her subsequent writings, however, Massey (1998, 1999) has moved to a more open and situated account of the variable power-geometries of contemporary globalization that refuses these totalizing images and transparent spaces. As she develops the concept of a power-geometry, so Massey now weaves it into a web of affiliations and solidarities that speaks much more directly to Haraway\'s vision of a situated knowledge. Thus she treats power-geometries as being centrally involved in processes of identity formation and in the possibilities of political action within the project of a radical democracy:
\'Identities\', in this formulation, are temporary â€¦ constellations, always interrelationally hybrid but none the less, and to varying degrees, with viably different stories to tell â€¦ What is (or could be) at issue politically is the power relations through which such identities are constituted and those through which they interact with each other and the wider world. It is the fact of their plurality and interrelation which keeps the future open for politics. (Massey, 1999, p. 291)Seen like this, the idea of a power-geometry is not only vitally involved in contemporary reformulations of conceptions of space in human geography (see space, human geography and): it is also of considerable moment in any politics of space.Â (DG)
References Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical imaginations. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Â Haraway, D. 1991: Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. London: Routledge, 183-201.Â Harvey, D. 1989: The condition of postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Â Massey, D. 1993: Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place. In J. Bird, B. Curtis, T. Putnam, G. Robertson, and L. Tickner, eds, Mapping the futures: local cultures, global change. London and New York: Routledge, 59-69.Â Massey, D. 1998: Imagining globalisation: power-geometries of time-space. In A. Brah, M.J. Hickman and M. MacanGhaill, eds, Future Worlds: migration, environment and globalization. London: Macmillan.Â Massey, D. 1999: Spaces of politics. In D. Massey, J. Allen and P. Sarre, eds, Human geography today. Cambridge: Polity Press, 279-94.
Suggested Reading Massey (1993), (1998).