The Spatialities of Provincial Politics and the English Civil War
My project addresses the relationship between public space and political behaviour around the time of the English Civil War (1642-51). I am investigating this link through a comparative study of political ‘spaces’ in a selection of provincial towns across England during and after the conflict, with the aim of garnering a greater understanding of the ways in which the tumultuous events of the period served to transform the political experiences of their inhabitants, and the extent to which politics penetrated localities outside of the London metropolis.
I am interested in both the spatiality and materiality of politics: in other words, precisely how we encounter politics in the real world, not as an intangible juridical phenomenon but an immediately aesthetic one. My hypothesis treats public spaces and their regulation not as coincidental backdrops or mere symptoms of the formal politics of Westminster, but immanent to the very process of Civil War politics itself.
The ‘spatial turn’ in history and the humanities has opened up new and interesting avenues for interdisciplinary research. In my study, I seek to apply some of these methodologies, enabling us to see – both literally and figuratively – the popular political engagement of the English Civil War from a different angle; one that not only deepens our understanding of the conflict per se, but that of the relationship between social and political history, and of Britain’s urban-cultural development more broadly.