Showing posts from September, 2011

Spatial theory, cultural geography, and the 'spatial turn'

I'm currently working on various seminar papers, and the mood among many historians is that we need theory back in history. James Vernon made an impassioned plea for a return to theory in his plenary lecture for the 2011 Social History Society conference. Basically his message was 'what are we afraid of?' A focus on empiricism has meant we have lost sight of the big ideas, and the big frameworks that shape history. The SHS used to have a theory strand for its conference, but we dropped it a few years ago because the number of papers offered was in decline. In response to Joyce, however, the SHS has reintroduced the 'theory and methods' strand for the next conference. Perhaps this is a sign that theory is back on the agenda.

I too have neglected theory for the past few years. I went on a cultural geography bender in the last year of my DPhil research, and also immersed myself in social movement studies. My first article, 'The Search for General Ludd' was imb…

Manchester meetings and crowdsourcing data

Do you want to share in my project to map historical meetings in Manchester?

Here is the link to my draft database of public meetings in Manchester, 1775-1848. It's using google fusion tables.
You can map the points by clicking on 'visualise' and 'map'.

I'm thinking about crowd-sourcing it to get more data. I'll set up a separate page to explain the purposes of the database soon, but in the meantime, do add your own data from historical newspapers, Home Office papers, archives, etc. And let me know!

My aim is to show how the type and locations of public meetings in Manchester changed over time. So, for example, radical meetings used St. Peter's Fields from 1816; trades used St. George's Fields from 1808; the loci of meetings moved southwards as Manchester developed between Oxford Road and Chorlton.

The points are plotted on the map (using lat and long grid references and each category of public meeting has its own symbol. So loyal meetings are dar…

Hall of Science, Manchester, then (1846) and now (2011)


Oxford characters

I was saddened to here of Zoe Peterssen's death this week. Here is a link to a story in the Oxford Mail about her.

Zoe was a former academic who gave it all in, as she told me, for nature. She was most often seen sitting on the benches on the long tree-lined approach to Christ Church, drawing trees and flowers on large pieces of paper. She also enjoyed the gardens of St. John's, especially in Spring, as the trees in new leaf there pleased her. I often spoke to Zoe on my wanderings around Oxford and was always heartened by her warmth and her gift of time. She would let me watch her draw, tell me something philosophical, before giving me one of the cards she had made, in return for very little payment. Whenever I was troubled, and taking a walk to think my trouble out, Zoe had an ability to appear at just the right time and place, much more than would be co-incidental; or perhaps I was subconsciously looking for her...

As the story and comments in the Oxford Mail show, Oxford is…