My project aims to develop a historically-focused analysis of radical municipalism in the UK. It focuses on the history of left and radical movements’ engagements with local state institutions that aimed at achieving just outcomes in the urban sphere. While sketching a broad historical narrative, the bulk of the thesis engages with the experience of two cities during the 1980s – Liverpool and London – with similar but divergent experiences of resistance and political mobilisation, in the context of Thatcherism's neoliberal reforms and their impacts on cities. These two cities's experiences have both frequently been seen as important 'moments' of radical local government, when left-wing factions within the Labour Party attempted to use municipal powers to both resist the implementation of neoliberal austerity measures, and to produce radical forms of urban planning and popular participation. My thesis examines those projects’ aims, outcomes, and legacies in the urban sphere, aimed at bringing their radical interventions to the attention of urban and social movement scholars. It utilises a critical historical approach developed through oral history interviews, archival material, and a critical engagement with existing historical literature to present a ‘counter-history’ of municipal socialism in Britain - one that questions the existing narratives and places more emphasis on the perspectives of social movements. Conceptually, the argument is informed by urban political economy and theoretical and strategic debates within the radical left – and set in the context of the recent (re)emergence of ‘radical municipalism’ in Spain and elsewhere, and the new strategic-theoretical approaches being developed within and through those projects. From these perspectives developed 'in and against the state', the thesis challenges the conceptual binary between local state institutions and civil society and suggests that radical movements have been able to make creative use of the relative autonomy of local government.
Research Affiliations: Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship Research Cluster
Funding: University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship
I am interested primarily in urban contestation, and how cities and urban issues relate to social movements and radical politics, but also more broadly in critical urban theory, urban planning, political economy, and radical history. I have previously taught on a number of related modules in the School of Geography at Leeds, particularly Contested Cities, Making of the Modern City, and Geographies of Economies, and have also taught urban geography as a guest lecturer at Leeds Beckett University.
- MA, Social and Cultural Geography, University of Leeds
- BA, Social Science, Leeds Beckett University