Unreal City: Discovering London through the Archive (by Hannah Awcock and Bethan Bide)

Yesterday I ran my first full length seminar with Bethan Bide, another PhD student in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway. We were discussing the opportunities and difficulties of using archives to research a city as vast and diverse as London. The following is a blog post we wrote summarising the ideas we presented in the seminar.

Landscape Surgery

London is a complex, vibrant, and diverse city to study (Source: The Guardian) London is a complex, vibrant, and diverse city to study (Source: The Guardian)

London is a fascinating city, a buzzing metropolis with an incredibly rich history. It has been the subject of an untold number of academic studies, as well as an almost infinite assortment of films, books, poems, pictures and other cultural products.


London is obviously a fantastic city to study. It is the economic, social, political and cultural centre of Britain, and during the heights of the British Empire it served this role for huge swathes of the world. It has a population of over eight million people, who speak over 300 languages. This quantity and diversity of people, organisations and events provides fertile ground for huge numbers of research projects. As well as this, it is almost unrivalled in terms of the archives available for use, and being the focus and inspiration of so much academic…

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