3. Space/Time

Space/Time Context

The archives exhibited in this gallery explore the concepts of space and time in relation to female academics’ experiences of living and working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gallery theme SPACE/TIME is underpinned by Doreen Massey’s radical approach to space ‘as social relations shaped by power and inherently temporal … a confluence and product of histories, relationships … the sphere in which distinct trajectories coexist’ (Massey 2005: 9). Massey’s definition challenges ‘the imagination of the spatial as petrification … a safe haven from the temporal … the notion of space as surface’ (ibid.: 28).

In selecting the archive material for this gallery, I have paid attention  to the spatial and temporal in the diary entries and interview transcripts. There is a focus on the disruption and repurposing of space and time; on the way groups and individuals occupy space or have access to it and on the mediation of relationships both professional and personal across and within spaces.

The use of diary entries and interviews has facilitated recording of an ever-changing present and reflects Massey’s definition of space as fluid, always under construction. The archives are both retrospective and contemporaneous; collected as the COVID-19 pandemic metamorphosed from a singular crisis event to a continuing phenomenon. They dwell on significant moments and look to an unknowable future. They document signs and symptoms of what may become longstanding, embodied harms as well as new and unexpected opportunities.

The originators of this archive material are all female academics, but they are otherwise heterogeneous and their accounts, individually and collectively, contribute to a sense of multiple pandemic temporalities. Living through COVID-19 has been a shared experience to an extent, but the pandemic collided with individual lives, lifestages and events, making each experience unique and resonating with Massey’s understanding of space-time as ‘a particular moment in networks of social relations and understandings’ (Massey 1994: 5).

Massey, D. (2005) For Space, London: Sage Publications.
Massey, D. (1994) Space, Place and Gender. Cambridge: Polity Press.