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London’s complex relationship with UK to be explored at public event

London’s often contentious relationship with the rest of the UK will be explored in a two-day public event in early July

Do London’s massive size and global importance warrant special attention from Britain’s politicians and media, or are the ‘Westminster elite’ caught in a bubble, oblivious to the issues facing people beyond the metropolis? And how has the relationship between the capital and the UK at large morphed and been perceived throughout history?

Such questions concerning London’s complex, often contentious and ever-evolving relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom will be explored in a two-day public event in early July.

Politicians, academics and members of the public will come together at Birkbeck, University of London (Fri 10 July) and the British Library (Saturday 11 July) for ‘London and the Nation’ – a conference organised by the Raphael Samuel History Centre (RSHC) and the London Studies Network.

From historical perspectives on the connections between the metropolis and the nation, right up to current-day commentary on the socioeconomic and political landscapes, the conference will feature discussion and debate from some of the country’s top thinkers and commentators, including:

Panel sessions on Friday 10 July will focus on continuities and ruptures in the way that the relationship between London and the nation has been perceived and portrayed over time. The following day at the British Library, meanwhile, will focus squarely on the situation today, with panellists debating topics across economic, cultural and political spectra.

DAY ONE: London and the Nation - Historical perspectives

  • (Friday 10 July, Room B36, Birkbeck’s Malet Street Building, 9am to 6.30pm, free to attend but booking is essential)
  • The first day of the conference focuses on the continuities and ruptures in the way that the relationship between London and the nation has been perceived and portrayed over time. The day will feature presentations from high-profile academics on topics including: Cultural Tensions between London and the Nation in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries; London’s Challenged Institutions in a National Context; Postwar Economic Change in London and the Nation; Literary and Visual Representations of London and the Nation

DAY TWO: London and the Nation Today

  • (Saturday 11 July, British Library Conference Centre, 9.30am to 6pm, tickets priced from £5 to £8)
  • With the current relationship between London the rest of the UK having arguably never been more contentious, the second day of the conference focuses squarely on the situation today, and the implications for the future.
  • Top political figures and commentators will present at the public event, including Joe Anderson, Owen Jones, Zoe Williams, David Dorling, Tony Travers and Irna Qureshi. Among the topics under discussion across the day will be: London and the political nation; Wealth and inequality in London and the nation; London, the nation and the world
  • (See full programme information at bottom of article)

Dr Thomas Jones, member of the RSHC and coordinator of London and the Nation said: “We are immensely excited to be holding this pair of events on London and the Nation.

“Over the past several years, the relationship between London and wider United Kingdom has been a subject of increasing salience, commentary, and controversy.  London’s recent economic and demographic booms, its global interconnectedness, and its political peculiarities, most recently on display at the last general election, have led many to wonder whether the nation and its capital are in the process of a profound ‘decoupling’.

“Yet for all its contemporary relevance, the question of London’s place in the nation has been a highly recurrent one over the last several centuries of British history. It is our intention that London and the Nation will provide a thorough exploration of both that historical context and the situation today.

“We are delighted to be joined by such an excellent group of panellists, including many of the UK’s finest academics, activists, journalists and political figures and commentators, and we hope that the two days will provide ample opportunity for public participation in this fascinating discussion.”

London and the Nation will run from Friday 10 to Saturday 11 July. Day one will be held in room B36, at Birkbeck’s Malet Street Building from 9am to 6.30pm. Attendance is free but booking is essential online.

Day two will be held at the British Library Conference Centre from 10am to 6pm. Tickets, priced between £5 to £8, are available from the British Library website.

Find out more

Day Two full programme information

  • London and the Nation at the British Library
    Saturday 11th July 2015
    British Library conference Centre, Euston Road, London NW1 2BD
  • 10.30    Registration. (Coffee on arrival)
  • 10.45-11.00    Welcome and introductions
  • 11.00-12.30    London and the Political Nation. Joe Anderson (Mayor of Liverpool) / Andrew Mycock (Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Huddersfield and convenor of Political Studies Association group on Britishness)
  • 12.30 – 1.30    Break
  • 1.30 – 3.30    Wealth and Inequality in London and the Nation. Danny Dorling (Professor of Geography, University of Oxford) / Tony Travers (Professor of Government, London School of Economics and Director of LSE London) / Zoe Williams (Journalist and author of Get it Together)
  • 3.30-4.00    Break (Tea and coffee provided)
  • 4.00 – 6.00    London, the Nation, and the World. Irna Qureshi (Anthropologist and author of Bollywood in Britain blog) / Ben Rogers (Founder and director of the Centre for London) / Gita Sahgal (Executive Director of Centre for Secular Space and co-founder of Southall Black Sisters)
  • 6.00    Pay bar

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