Research Interests


My main research is on the transformation of the urban landscape and urban society in Britain since the 1960s. What absorbs me is the relationship between mundane material structures – factories, motorways, shopping centres – and the fabric of everyday life, from worlds of work to pop music. My interest is informed by an engagement with the ways modernism, de-industrialization and multiculturalism intersected in British cities during the later twentieth century, a focus shared with the network of architectural, social and urban historians who make up the Society for the Promotion of Urban Discussion (SPUD) which I co-convene with Dr Otto Saumarez Smith at Oxford.

My current research is on the social and environmental effects of mass automobility in post-war Britain, linked to the Leverhulme Trust-funded project, Motor Cities: Automobility and the Urban Environment in Britain and Japan c.1955-1973, run with Dr Susan Townsend at the University of Nottingham. In the project we examine how a new traffic architecture of motorways and underpasses was engineered into post-war cities like Birmingham and Nagoya and its impact on the ways such cities were imagined and experienced. The project has already produced a series of journal articles and we are completing a monograph.

Alongside these substantive areas of research I also have interests in historiography and historical methods, which have resulted in two books and a number of journal articles. In pursuing this strand, the aim is to promote a confident, curious and open brand of history, alert to new directions in disciplines like cultural geography and sociology, and capable of speaking to the fragile conditions of the present.

Recent Research Grants

Automobility in Transition symposium, VW Foundation, £18,500, with PD Dr Christoph Bernhardt, Leibniz Institute for Society and Space, Berlin, 2015
Motor Cities: Automobility and the Urban Environment in Nagoya and Birmingham 1955-1973, Leverhulme Trust, AAM1011029 £154,757 with Dr Susan Townsend, University of Nottingham, 2011-2015
Manufacturing Pasts: Industrial Change in Twentieth Century Britain, JISC, £75,586, with Dr Rebecca Madgin and Ben Wynne, University of Leicester, 2012-13

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