Published by Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at University of Greenwich, London

Living Maps seminar series: Map is not territory

Conventional cartographies are good at depicting the visible surface of the world but tend to obscure or exclude its deeper layers of meaning, especially those associated with natural and cultural histories whose material traces may be difficult to decode. This seminar will explore some recent ‘archaeological’ strategies designed to excavate and put these hidden histories on the map.
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Memoryscape: Site Specific Oral history in a Community Context
“For several years I have been interested in mapping memories and have created several oral history trails, or memoryscapes, in and around London. In this talk I will be exploring the potential of mapping memories for building connections in communities in spatial, historical and social terms. I will be discuss the trials and tribulations of community-based mapping projects from my own work involving artists and community groups in trail making around the Royal Docks in East London ( and experiential mapping work with Italian-Canadian children in Montreal, Canada.”
Digital Experiences of Limehouse Chinatown
“The ‘Wander East through East, project is an audio trail exploring the hidden history of Limehouse Chinatown, the original London based Chinatown, which was prominent in London’s East End between the 1880s to the 1930s. Although small in scale compared to Chinatown districts around the world, Limehouse has had a great impact on the perception of Chinese Diasporas within the Western imagination. As a result, Limehouse Chinatown becomes a site of urban spectacle in London by the 1920s. Inspired by the Situationist approach to urban exploration, ‘Wander East through East’ encourages the walker to critically engage with ‘Limehouse Chinatown.’ By using digital platforms, oral history and a creative approach to presenting history, the ‘Wander East through East’ trail critiques a homogenous, racialised, and sedentary characterisation of place and suggests an alternative way of re-imagining and experiencing place.”
Re-walking London
“There is a story in the pattern of our streets, in the names we have given them and in the weeds that grown on their fringes. They are the stories of the people who have lived and worked there and the communities from which they have come. They are the echoes of lost landscapes; and of past associations reasserting themselves. This talk sets out to explore the lost, or hidden, stories of our locations and to explain, with practical examples, how we can ‘read’ an area. It also looks at the connections between ‘natural’ and ‘social’ history: how our transport systems affect the spread of wild plants or what the weeds of a waste land can tell us about world trade or our agricultural or industrial past. It will argue that human community depends on connections: with time, with place, with other people, and with the other species with which we share our space. Faced, however, with the power given to developers and with the demands of a growth-at-all-costs economy, we are in danger of robbing our streets of all meaning and of destroying a sense of place. Understanding where we are is essential to understanding who we are and we should view it as an act of resistance.”
FORMAT:  3 presentations plus Q&A session, networking opportunities and refreshments.
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Toby Butler is a senior lecturer in London History and Heritage at the University of East London. He has created several oral history trails that explore place and memory, and has directed or worked on oral history projects in India, the USA, Wales and England, including the oral history trail around the Royal Docks ‘Ports of Call’. Toby is co-editor of the History Workshop Journal, programme leader of the MA in ‘Heritage Studies: place, memory and history’ at the Raphael Samuel History Centre and a research associate at the Scottish Oral History Centre. He is currently writing ‘Memoryscapes: making place based oral history’ for the Oxford University Press. Website:
Halima Khanom completed her BA (Hons) in History and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Now half way through an MA in Heritage Studies, Halima has recently developed the ‘Wander East through East’ audio trail exploring the hidden history of Limehouse Chinatown. Halima worked previously at the Royal Geographical Society where she recently completed a Heritage Lottery Fund traineeship. She is now based at the Museum of London, working on collaborative projects with local community groups and coordinating their Inclusion Programme.
Bob Gilbert is  long-standing campaigner for the protection of urban open spaces and public access, he is also the author of ‘The Green London Way’ (2013), a 110 mile walking route around London bringing together social and natural history, and his newspaper column on urban wildlife has now run for 17 years. Bob is currently writing ‘Ghost Trees’, a study of an urban landscape and the way that past influences and natural forms help shape the modern city.
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For more detail of presentations together with bookings and local transport updates for this event:
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Forthcoming seminars:
#2 Hidden Histories (2014/02/11) The Building Exploratory |
#3 Grounding Knowledge (2014/03/11) Queen Mary University of London |
#4 Marginalised Spaces Liminal Bodies (2014/05/13) UEL Stratford Campus |
Seminar #1 ‘Mapping The Field’ took place on January 15th at The Young Foundation.
Summary, download pdf presentations and video from this seminar:
For general information and programming contact Phil Cohen: mob/txt: 07583304572
For booking enquiries contact John Wallett: mob/txt: 07757305327
If you want to receive news of all forthcoming seminars, events and other LIVINGMAPS projects please sign up with our Mailchimp list now:

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