This research cluster brings together historians and people from other disciplines working in or on cities and urban culture and society.  It is not simply, a forum for ‘urban history’, but covers the interests of a range of people exploring the city, for example from urban public health, to demography, popular protest, civic culture and activism and processes of urbanisation.

Leeds has an enduring tradition of research into urban history. Current members of the School have completed important projects on the history of Leeds itself and of urban life elsewhere in Britain, continental Europe, and South Asia.

We are interested in the ways that a diverse range of social and cultural approaches to the study of history can be focused on the urban environment. This takes us far beyond the conventional topics of municipal history and into such areas as how urban dwellers have understood their own individuality and how dictatorship has refashioned urban life.

Members of the group have also explored the dynamics of diaspora and migration in post-colonial Britain as a means of theorising the relationship between different urban spaces.  Some are not historians of the urban space per se, but have focused almost exclusively on particular cities as a political context for social mobility and sectarian conflict.

Others have looked at how working-class worlds, including those of children, were transformed in the transitions to industrial and post-industrial urban society. We seek to plan projects that intersect with urban history in these innovative and revealing ways.

In addition the University of Leeds’ new Culture ‘theme’ and Cultural Institute is going to be very much based around thinking about urban spaces in terms of cultural production, especially the relationship between Leeds and other cities.  The Cities research group may also have an involvement in the Leeds bid for ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2023.  

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