Disinterring Slum-Clearance London: Expertise and User Perspectives in the 1930s Maritime East End

Jason Finch*, Jessica Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Combining perspectives from spatial literary studies and design history, this article offers a historically contextualised and multiperspectival view of imaginative place as a new tool for practitioners of radical urban geography and relational literary geographies. It originates in two independent research traditions. Both reveal a clash between expert and user perspectives mediated by diverse texts discussing areas classified as slums in 1930s London. The article contributes to a growing literature reclaiming London’s maritime East End as a culturally rich zone whose identity as imaginative place has been contested by different groups throughout the period since the early nineteenth century. Its methodology provides a model for putting different text types, here a 1935 slum clearance appeal hearing transcript and a 1937 novel of migrant experience, into a framework that makes them comparable and mutually comprehensible. Humanised insights from the 1930s maritime East End thus contribute to London history and historical geography, both sizeable fields, but also to conceptual work by spatially oriented literary scholars and geographers with literary interests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-145
Number of pages18
JournalLiterary Geographies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Housing
  • literary urban studies
  • design history
  • London
  • London in literature
  • built environment
  • slum clearance


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