Tim Joubert


My project develops a historically-focused analysis of the relations between left social movements and local governance in theories of radical social change. Using a case study of the Greater London Council (GLC) between 1981-86, it unpicks the complex and contradictory qualities of acting ‘in and against the state’ at a local level. It builds on recent interest in ‘radical municipalism’ that has renewed scholarly attention to the historical experiences of the British municipal left, focusing in particular on the internal dynamics of radical-left local governance. Within the context of deindustrialising 1980s Britiain, activists of the ‘new urban left’ used positions within the local state to push beyond formal representative politics, challenge central state power, and extend material and symbolic support to grassroots social movements, while seeking to knit together new popular cross-class constituencies for radical politics built around urban public services. Drawing on archival records and interviews, my thesis offers a more fine-grained interrogation of the internal politics of the GLC, highlighting the difficulties and openings of activism ‘within’ the machinery and bueaucracy of the local state that challenge conceptual binaries of within/outside the state or between state and civil society. Attention to the quotidian practices of operating simultaneously as activists and state officials, as well as their quality as labour, contributes to emerging theoretical perspectives that seek to reinterpret and reimagine the contours of statehood, and offers new pathways for transformative anti-capitalist movements unfolding within, through and against institutions of urban governance.

Research Affiliations: Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship Research Cluster

Funding: University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship

Research interests

I am interested in urban contestation, social movements and radical politics, critical urban theory, and radical history.

I have taught on modules in the School of Geography including Contested Cities, Making of the Modern City, and Geographies of Economies, and have 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