This initiative from the School of Advanced Study, coordinated by Dr Claire Launchbury, aims to promote and facilitate new and interdisciplinary work on cities. We hope it will draw on the wealth of work on cities taking place in SAS among its nine very different institutes to identify new and exciting research themes that help us to understand what cities are, have been, and what they might be in the future.
With more than 50 percent of the world’s population now living in urban areas, it is more important than ever to study what it means to be ‘urban’ and the ways in which we have shaped cities and they have shaped us over centuries and millennia, and across regions of the world.
We see the arts and humanities as having a particularly valuable role to play here, complementing the work of policy-makers, planners, and contemporary commentators by contributing a distinctive set of disciplinary perspectives, methodologies, and evidence bases.
The breadth of research in SAS touches on almost every aspect of urban existence. For example, the School is home to two longstanding research centres, the Centre for Cultural Memory and the Centre for Metropolitan History, both of which have pioneered research into different aspects of cities and their representations, inhabitants, and environments, resulting in major projects, publications, and collaborations.
We also have academics working on topics as varied as Renaissance cities, on law in urban contexts, on human rights in some of the most challenging cities in the world, and on material culture and the urban built environment over more than 2,000 years.
By bringing together some of these approaches, we want to try and identify connections and new ways to look at cities, working with colleagues in related disciplines such as cultural geography, archaeology, and the sciences, and with exciting cultural partners in London and beyond.