Posts Tagged ‘spatial’

Metropolitan History seminar
23 November 2011
Urbanising China in war and peace, Wuxi 1911-1945
Toby Lincoln (Centre for Urban History, Leicester)

Wuxi (Wikipedia)


Toby Lincoln examines Wuxi at the beginning of the twentieth century asking questions of its urban development, its composition as a city, and the effect of Japanese occupation in the 1930s.  Wuxi is an urban region in China.  Lincoln argues that Wuxi underwent a large expansion led by a modern capitalist drive, migration, and demonstration of state political power.  The occupation of the city by the Japanese led to a rebuilding of Wuxi that reflects surprising continuity and in so doing reveals the limits of Japanese occupation in the region.

Lincoln tells us that urbanisation is a long-term trend in China and that the interconnection between urban and rural landscapes demonstrates variances in lifestyle and practices.  Sometimes, urbanisation is seen in China as the effect of a decadent foreign imposition on traditional Chinese lifestyles whilst in other occasions it is viewed as Chinese progression.  Lincoln’s focus is on the overlapping geographies of Wuxi.  These are used as a way into the subject – focused on spatial understandings of flexible borders and connections between spaces.

 To listen to this podcast click here.


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Digital History
31 May 2011
Professor Richard Rodger (Edinburgh)
Space, place and the city: a simple anti-GIS approach for historians


William EDGAR- City and Castle of Edinburgh 1765


If you suggest using GIS (geographical information system) to an historian they might look back at you blankly or with a look of mild horror on their face.  For many historians GIS is viewed (not unfairly) as a complicated tool best left to others.  However, its potential usefulness in answering and revealing research questions is pretty much indisputable.  Richard Rodger wants to show that working on the spatial does not necessarily require GIS work and where it does, it is often highly rewarding.  In this paper Rodger wants to look at alternatives to GIS, to more simple processes for investigating the spatial.  He does this not just with the academic historian in mind, but also the local historian, the student, and other interested researchers.  Using pre-established geo-referencing tools and by following straight forward techniques can be highly rewarding and relatively easy to learn.  Take the Google Maps platform as an example.  Rodger describes in this paper how to use Google tools to map spatially various statistical data with minimum of effort.  Then there is his own project, Visualising Urban Geographies, which uses Edinburgh as a template for building mapping tools specifically designed for use by historians.  By investigating data by addresses or districts, this project allows historians to create spatial boundaries to link maps to the boundaries of data.  In other words a set of district records can be mapped accurately and displayed in a way useful for interpretation. 

Rodger wants everyone to be able to investigate the spatial and emphasises that it does not necessarily need to be complicated or time consuming. 

To listen to this podcast/video please click here.


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Metropolitan History
The Survey of London: methods and sources for recording the development of London’s fabric
Peter Guillery and Philip Temple (Survey of London, English Heritage)
12 October 2011 

Peter Guillery starts by telling his listeners what the survey of London is about.  Founded in 1894 to focus on the east end of London the survey soon grew to take in London as a whole.  The first publication named An object Lesson in National History focused on Trinity Hospital, Mile End road which was at that time threatened with demolition (the publication helped to save the building).  The focus then turned to parish studies but still narrowly focused on architecture.  Guillery discusses the trends and ownership changes that the survey underwent during its long history and which eventually lead to its ownership by English Heritage and it’s widening out to encompass the urban history and the built environment of London in general.  Guillery also mentions where the survey is heading at present and in the future.

Philip Temple discusses and gives details on the content and use of four sources used in the survey: rate books (areas of land, houses value in parishes); Middlesex Deeds Register (single most important source for building history of London north of the Themes); monthly returns by district surveyors; valuation office field books (records of individual properties and the increase/decrease of their value). 

Click here for the podcast. 


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