Urban Historians

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Interviews with practising urban historians

Scroll for the most recent! Who knows what’ll catch your eye on the descent…

April 2016

Read 19th Century urban historian Simon Briercliffe on how GIS mapping can revitalise local history

Tom Hulme talks about his research into inter-war local government and cultures of local citizenship in the UK and United States

“…the humane, the beautiful, the banal, and the catastrophic.” Otto Samuarez-Smith on how he’s trying to improve our understanding of post-war architecture 

“…fairly normal” Lauren Piko, on Milton Keynes’ environs and how to read its status in British popular culture through the lens of Gramscian subcultural analysis  

May 2016

Local idealism and the grit of practical politics. Speaking to John, the curator of Municipal Dreams about his project to remember the councillors, most “barely names in their own households” who built British modernity 

Donna Taylor, historian of 19th Century Birmingham, on how she’s finding new directions through which to study of local administrative history 

“…many boards were mindful of local public opinion, even if they didn’t always adhere to it!” Nicola Blacklaws on the poor law’s lingering presence in 20th Century Britain

Creating a global dimension to urban history, and refocusing the history of the global upon cities. Speaking to the team at Berlin Free University behind the Global Urban History blog

Popular youth culture beyond the subculture. Sarah Kenny on her work exploring youth people’s leisure time in late 20th Century northern, urban Britain

“[out cities were built by planners and architects whose political assumptions and anthropological claims have long since been deemed to be defunct.” Sam Wetherell on unearthing the contours of how capitalism transformed the late 20th Century city

June 2016

Tracy Neumann on the ideological and political implications of the “postindustrial” condition upon the governance of our cities 

“‘declining’ cities can still be great cities”, the University of Leicester’s Aaron Andrews on how he’s complicating narratives of “decline” pertaining to Britain’s port cities. 

July 2016

“The approaches I was taught early on in examining the built environment did not take into account much of the mundane – and hidden – machination… I saw in the ‘real’ world.” Catherine Flinn on the rebuilding of British cities after World War II.

August 2016

“You only have to look around your office surroundings to see the influence of fire through its absence” Shane Ewen, of Leeds Beckett, on how accidents and emergencies built modern cities and much more. 

University of Edinburgh’s Tower Block Project, recording and discussing the legacy of Britain’s high-rise living spaces.

September 2016

“Basildon was built to be a hub for the arts – you have to smash the surface to glimpse it But it’s there…”. Christopher Ian Smith on how his new film New Town Utopia challenges us to recover something of the post-war new town’s early optimism. 

October 2016

Ewan Gibbs, of the University of the West of Scotland; on Economic planning and its impact upon the social and cultural development of urban Scotland.

Hull University’s Micheal Reeve “tentatively suggest[s] that there is something unique about wartime port experience, [through] exploring the ‘mentalities’ of historical actors… [who went] through [the] bombardment.”

November 2016

Ben Roberts of Teesside University on “[Middlesbrough and the wider north east] the rich primary source that [he] has lived in most of [his life” and how it can be read to tell a story that “is indicative of the broader themes of modern British history”.

December 2016

Sharing “local government’s relics”: “LCC Municipal” on place, community and finding and sharing the material, ephemeral traces of local government’s past on Twitter. 

Sarah Mass of the University of Michigan on markets, marketplaces, place and the shifting kaleidoscope of identity in Britain’s towns and cities. 

January 2017

Using the collection of a civic museum to write urban history. Birmingham Museum’s Birmingham Manufactures project.

Katrina Navickas of the University of Hertfordshire on how spatial mapping software and other digital tools allow for new approaches to studying urban protest.

March 2017

Rosamund Lily West of Kingston University on how the post-war LCC: “believed in the value of the arts and the value of arts education. For the LCC, art was not an elitist pursuit, but a part of daily life.”

Enjoyed reading these? Got any suggestions for someone, or a project, you’d like to see profiled? Think you should be on here? Get in touch. 

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