Historian of the city, politics, and society
This fall, the view from my window looks a bit different. Until December I’ll be an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Urban History in Leicester, UK. The Centre, based at the University of Leicester, is a leader in urban history research, and historians here are doing fascinating work on everything from automobility and the urban environment to oral histories of East Midlands cities.
And make no mistake, there is a lot here to study. Despite Leicester’s relatively small size (approximately 300,000 people), it has nearly two millenia of urban history under its belt. From a relatively modest Roman-era settlement (Ratae Corieltauvorum), it became a bishopric and thriving medieval market town. During the Victorian era it was minor industrial powerhouse, drawing in tens of thousands of rural migrants in search of work.
And despite the challenges posed in the twentieth century by de-industrialization, the city has continued to attract new citizens from around the world. Today it is one of the ethnically diverse cities in Britain — a model of multiculturalism, to some — and one of the fastest-growing.
I’m absolutely delighted to have the chance to live in Leicester, learn about the work being done at the Centre for Urban History, share my own research, and build cross-Atlantic links within the field. All of this thanks to the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History at York University.