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Murray Mckenzie 小莫


Murray MckenzieSupervision: Andrew Harris (primary); Caroline Bressey (secondary).

Funding: UCL Overseas Research Scholarship; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship; Chinese Government Scholarship.

From September 2015 to July 2016, I was in residence as a senior visiting scholar in the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, under the supervision of Tong Xin (童昕).





My primary research focus is concerned with an interdisciplinary perspective on urban geographies of contemporary art, working between urban spaces of art production and spaces produced by art, through both representation and intervention, both within and beyond the city. The core component of this research draws on fieldwork in Beijing, China, including ethnographic interviews and participatory observation in the Heiqiao artists' village (黑桥村). Combining these methods with visual analysis and archival research, I trace art's circulation through the city and its entanglement with imaginaries of the urban fringe and the village-in-the-city (城中村) and with ruination and the material traces of demolition and relocation (拆迁). This research also includes a theoretical component, engaging with debates on the contemporaneity of art and their relevance for relational ontologies of space.

I have a secondary research focus, exploring the possibilities for cultural memory research in the context of transnational and comparative urbanisms, focusing in particular on the production of contemporary art as a memory practice. I am presently preparing two papers associated with this research for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

I am also involved with an ongoing research programme led by Profs. Thomas Hutton and Trevor Barnes, at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver). We have undertaken a comparative study of new economic spaces in Vancouver and Seattle, with an emphasis on Gastown/Victory Square (Vancouver) and South Lake Union (Seattle). The first of a series of papers arising from this work was published in 2015.


2015 – 2016    Visiting senior scholar, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China. Supervisor: Tong Xin (童昕).

2013    M.A. (Planning), School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Thesis title: (Re)Remembering the Inner City: Cultural Production, Reflexivity, and Vancouver’s Heritage Areas. Supervisor: Thomas Hutton (primary); David Ley (secondary).

2009    B.A., Geography and History in Art, University of Victoria, Canada.

Publications and presentations

Peer-reviewed publications

Mckenzie, M. (in preparation). An era without memories: revisiting cultural memory and transnational urbanism.

Mckenzie, M. and Hutton, T. (2015). Culture-led regeneration in the post-industrial built environment: complements and contradictions in Victory Square, Vancouver. Journal of Urban Design, 20(1), 8-27.

Republished in Stevens, Q. (Ed.). (in press). Creative Milieux: How Urban Design Nurtures Creative Clusters. London: Routledge.

Other publications

Mckenzie, M. (forthcoming). On the spatial poetics of Buffering. Invited exhibition catalogue essay.

Li, S. and Mckenzie, M. (forthcoming). Art labour at large. Conference proceedings.

Conference papers presented

2016    On the urban locations of art: observations from the fringe of Beijing. Space in Mind: Asylum Topographies, Bethlem Gallery, London, 22 September.

2016    Art labour at large. (Li Shuang, co-presenter). Overwhelming Imagination: Achieving and Undermining Contradictions, Sishang Art Museum, Beijing, 4-5 July.

2016    Contemporaneity, comparative urban geographies, and the spatial imaginaries of contemporary art. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, San Francisco, 29 March – 2 April.

2015    Contesting the politics of representation and remembrance: can art save Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. London Conference of Critical Thought, University College London, 26-27 June.

2015    Urban memory and the contested cultural quarter: art as counter-memory in Vancouver, Canada. Cultures in Disarray: Deconstruction/Reconstruction, King’s College London, 11-12 June.

2015    Arts of memory, landscapes of memory: remembrance and ruination in experimental art on Beijing’s urban fringe. Stadtkolloquium Annual Workshop, University College London, 30-31 March.

2014    Urban memory and the contested cultural quarter: exploring the ‘Downtown Eastside’ in Vancouver, Canada. Controversies Around Creativity in Cities Workshop, Berlin Social Science Center, 23-24 October.

2013    Cultural production, reflexivity, and the re-remembrance of the inner city. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles, 9-13 April.

2012    (Re)remembering the inner city: appropriations of history and myth in Vancouver’s creative industries. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, New York, 24-28 February.

Professional activity

Sessions co-convenor (with Yueming Zhang), Global Art Worlds and a World of Cities, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, San Francisco, 1 April 2016.

Workshop co-convenor (with Yixiang Sun), ‘Placing’ Culture in Urban China: Towards a Transdisciplinary Dialogue, University College London, 2 July 2015. Funded by the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies.

Workshop co-convenor, Stadtkolloquium Annual Workshop, University College London, 30-31 March 2015. Funded by the UCL Urban Laboratory.

I have given lectures for postgraduate course modules in the Department of Geography, University College London and the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.

I have peer-reviewed manuscripts for Environment and Planning A and the Journal of Urban Design.