Contesting the Capital: Space, Place, and Protest in London, 1780-2010

Hannah Awcock

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

817 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis investigates the relationship between space, place, and protest
in London between 1780 and 2010, focussing primarily on four themes:
communication and organisation; control of, and access to, public space;
memory and commemoration; and repertoires of protest.
Space, place, and protest are shown to be mutually constitutive,
impacting and shaping each other in complex and interactive ways. The
thesis demonstrates that although developments in areas such as
communication technology and policing have impacted protest in the
capital since 1780, some elements remain relatively unchanged: the ways
in which protesters communicate and organise, despite new media; the
ongoing struggle with the authorities for the highly symbolic public space
of the capital; the ways in which collective memories of past protests are
constructed and used; and the ways in which repertoires of protest
Combining a long-term historiographical approach with an event
based empirical focus, the thesis examines four case studies: the Gordon
Riots (1780), the Hyde Park Railings Affair (1866), the Battle of Cable Street
(1936), and the Student Tuition Fee Protest (2010). This thesis is primarily
an exercise in historical geography, but it draws on, and contributes to, a
range of scholarship in geography, history, and social science concerned
with protest, social movements, London, and the urban. Archival
research—engaging with a wide variety of historical sources, including
pamphlets, newspaper articles, images, and social media—was used to
explore the ways that space and place shape, and are contested during,
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Keighren, Innes M., Supervisor
  • Gilbert, David, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sept 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • London
  • 18th century
  • 19th century
  • 20th century
  • Protest
  • Dissent
  • Resistance
  • historical geography
  • Human Geography
  • Organisation
  • Communication
  • Public space
  • commemoration
  • Memory
  • repertoires of protest

Cite this