Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Talking Points: Towards a Citizen’s Atlas of London

16 October 2018, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Towards a Citizen’s Atlas of London

Join Prof Phil Cohen (IAS Senior Visiting Research Fellow) for his talk: 'Towards a Citizen’s Atlas of London.' Respondent: Professor Muki Haklay (UCL) and Professor Ben Campkin (UCL)

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
Ground Floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

In this talk I will discuss a number of political, conceptual and methodological issues which have arisen from the research and development of A Citizen’s Atlas of London. This project, initiated by the Livingmaps Network, is setting out to train and support citizen mappers located in regeneration hot spots across London, enabling them to use a variety of participatory mapping approaches to explore and represent their own alternative visions of the city’s past, present and future.

To what extent can participatory action research be considered an effective tool for doing citizen social science? How far can an ethno-cartographic approach succeed in releasing the sociological imagination of groups who find themselves marginalized in the political and planning process, disqualified by the educational system, and condemned to an increasingly precarious economic existence?

To address these questions I will present and discuss a video of two map making sessions, the first with a senior citizen’s group, the second with a mixed ability group of children and young people, both drawn from working class and minority ethnic communities in East London’s docklands which have suffered historic neglect by the civic planning authorities, but now find themselves caught up in a process of accelerated gentrification.


Phil Cohen is a Senior Visiting Research at the Institute of Advanced Studies and an Emeritus Professor at the University of East London. He has spent over forty years working with communities of East London, in a wide variety of research, educational and cultural projects, tracing the impact of structural and demographic change on livelihoods, life styles and life stories, with a special focus on perceptions of class, gender and ‘race’. He is the author of a widely acclaimed study of the 2012 Olympics and its impact on East London, On the Wrong Side of the Tracks (Lawrence and Wishart 2013) and Archive that, Comrade: Left legacies and the Counter Culture of Remembrance (PM Press 2018). He has also written a memoir Reading Room Only: memoir of a radical bibliophile (Five Leaves 2013) and Graphologies (with his partner, the painter Jean McNeil), a collection of poetry and fiction, published by Mica Press in 2016.

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