This article assesses squatted social centers in London as a means to understand the cycles, contexts and institutionalization processes of the local squatters movement. This diffuse social movement had its heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s when there were 30,000 squatters and still exists today despite squatting in residential buildings being criminalized in 2012. Analysis is based on a database of 245 social centers, which are examined in terms of duration, time period, type of building and location. Important centers are briefly profiled and important factors affecting the squatters movement are examined, in particular institutionalization, gentrification, and criminalisation.
Temporary Nodes of Resistance to Capitalism
Paris, Cultural Cartography, and Late Victorian Decadence
The study of Decadence recently has attempted to counteract the perceived apoliticism of the movement by examining the spread of Decadent communities in opposition to larger ones of the nation state. This article seeks to both complicate and extend that discussion by turning to the ways in which the novelist George Moore and the poet and critic Arthur Symons transformed London through the importation of Parisian impressionism. Examining naturalism and impressionism, this article argues that London “disappears” as a symbol of the nation state and is transformed into the abstracted space of modern urbanity.
(Dis)covering the Victorian City
David W. Chapman
Visitors to London are often seeking an imaginary city, one defined through literary depictions and pop culture. To (dis)cover Victorian London requires the visitor to disentangle the corporeal, historical, and mythical manifestations of the city. Thus, the corpus of London is both a literary and a physical space with geographical features, architectural styles, and visual references that sometimes form the viewer’s experience and are sometimes formed by the viewer’s expecta- tions. The corpus of London is not only an experience of recognition but also one that leads inevitably to magnification, distortion, disruption, and even erasure of the cultural artifact.
Adapting the Gothic Metropolis
This article focuses on the reimagining of Victorian London central to two recent, high-profile television adaptations, NBC / Sky Living’s Dracula (2013–14) and Showtime / Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful (2014–). Paying attention to the series themselves and paratextual forms such as posters and title sequences, the article argues that both productions are more interested in responding to the popular Victorian Gothic image of the city than in carefully reconstructing a straightforward facsimile of nineteenth-century London. It shows, in fact, that this adaptation of the Victorian cityscape is presented in heightened, performative terms. Dracula and Penny Dreadful’s self-conscious approach to their Victorian London settings is related, on a textual level, to the playfully anarchic response of these adaptations to their literary sources and characters. More generally, it reflects recent contextual developments affecting the practice of adapting nineteenth-century texts.
Containment and Excess in Snatch
Snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000) is a comic-book gangster film that can be seen to represent the backlash against perceived notions of political correctness in what is effectively a public-schoolboy fantasy of working-class life in East London. However, the film also delineates the limits of this backlash in its depiction of minorities as either contained or excess. This is highlighted through the comic-book genre itself as well as the characterization. Thus, this article explores the tension between the genre, representation and Jewish identity.
Experiences of undocumented Latin American migrants in London
Ana Gutiérrez Garza
Through an ethnography of undocumented migrants from Latin America to London, I explore the temporality of illegality as a piecemeal process in which migrants find themselves embodying new ways of being in the world. I investigate the power of illegality beyond its legal connotations and through the analysis of the everyday experiences of migrants in London, I show how it affects the external structure of migrants’ worlds, as well as their subjectivities. I show how the illegal status is imagined, embodied, and sustained over an indefinite and uncertain length of time. Undocumented migrants in London are required to slowly adapt, to wait through anxious engagements with other people, and to deal with a legal system that controls their fractured presents and their uncertain futures.
Singing in Yiddish about London: 1880-1940 is the story of six Yiddish songs that tell of mainly East End people and places and experiences; these snippets of history give insights into what was happening in London at the time. They tell of poverty and work, of street life and of love. They tell of characters; an old fiddler, a bagel seller, a prostitute. They tell of places, the Pavilion Theatre, Victoria Park, Morgan Street. They sparkle with life, whether deeply moving or comic. This article explores Jewish history through the songs, as well as exploring the history of the songs themselves. The songs were collected in Denmark, Canada, Germany, Liverpool and London. The article describes some of the people who sung them, who collected them and who wrote them. There is a lot unknown about the songs and why they were written, so there is much to conjecture by London Yiddishists and folk collectors. These answers throw more light onto the politics and issues of the day. Today these songs are being performed by Vivi Lachs and Klezmer Klub, a London-based band who are seeking to revive them and imbue in them a sense of their meaning for today.
A Convex Lens for the Global City
John D. Schwetman
After Harry Beck designed his map of the London Underground, it became an icon of the city and a model for maps in other large transit networks around the world. The map allowed its readers to see themselves as components of the large, organized structure of the metropolis but also confronted them with the possibility of losing themselves to that structure. An analysis of the post-Beck subway map tradition shows it to be a battleground between the zeal for order and the latent chaos at the heart of the urban communities that the map represents and also situates this conflict in a larger context of the emergence of a global societal structure bound together by the control of capital and of the information that enables such control.
Carlos López Galviz
Designology, London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
London WC2E 7BB, United Kingdom
Admission: Adults £17/Concession £14.50
Boat Time and the Temporal Experience of London’s Liveaboard Boaters
Itinerant boat-dwellers (‘boaters’) on the waterways of London speak about their lives as occurring in a time zone that is separate from the sedentary world around them. ‘Boat time’, as boaters call it, is simultaneously slow and unpredictable. The slow aspect of boat time is said to provide a much-needed contrast to the fast and highly choreographed movements of the city surrounding the towpaths. It becomes part of the boaters’ rhetoric of difference from, and resistance to, the state and other sedentary elements surrounding them. This article suggests that temporal experiences are a constitutive part of identity, a strategic component of resistance to the sedentary order, and a thread that links the disparate aspects of boaters’ own lives aboard.