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Publication Detail
Combining GIS and space syntax techniques to explore the urban-scale distribution of political meeting places in Manchester c.1790 - 1850
  • Publication Type:
    Conference presentation
  • Authors:
    Griffiths S, Navickas K, Mavros P
  • Date:
  • Name of Conference:
    Spatial Humanities
  • Conference place:
    University of Lancaster
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
This paper reports on an experimental interdisciplinary collaboration between a social historian and social scientists in the field of architectural research. It examines the conceptual and methodological issues that arise from importing the formal analytical methods of space syntax and spatial analysis in GIS, into a research area defined in the disciplinary context of social history: politics and protest in early industrial Manchester. The explorative phase of research involved the creation of a geo-referenced dataset identifying the location of meetings of a diverse range of political groups, including the Chartists, in Manchester c.1790-1850. The meeting-place data was extracted mainly from newspaper accounts and linked to spatial-morphological data derived from space syntax analysis of Manchester’s mid-nineteenth-century street network. This can gauge, for example, whether meetings were more likely to take place on relatively busy or quiet streets. Spatial analysis in GIS was also used to compare the clustering density of meeting places across different urban locations. A key concern of the researchers, in the application of quantitative mapping methods to historical data, was to develop a better interdisciplinary understanding of what might reasonably be added to the interpretative framework of urban-based protest movements already available to historians of this period. Analysing the structure of a historical street network enables historical research to describe the spatial, as well as the social, relationships of a city; in this case of political meetings. The study also raised productive questions about the role of historical context in the interpretation of spatial data.
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