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Events 2016-17

Wednesday 15th March 2017, 5 - 7pm, University Square Stratford, Room US3.08
Novelist Tessa McWatt and theatre director Dominic Hingorani discuss the role of East London in their recent productions.

Tessa McWatt’s Higher Ed (2015) follows five characters weaving their different lives in and around East London. 

The late John Berger praised Higher Ed not only for its ‘wonderful narration’ but also for mapping ‘the archipelago’ of London’s east side. 

Tessa McWatt
is Professor of Creative Writing, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London.

Dominic Hingorani
is the librettist and director of Clocks 1888: the greener, a new opera which takes the factory clock as its starting point. The opera swings between the mechanisation of working class life in the Victorian East End and the multicultural attempts to resist this process.

Clocks 1888: the greener
is the first opera in a trilogy under development by Brolly Productions. Described as ‘suitably striking’ (The Stage) and ‘highly emotional’ (The Upcoming), it premiered in Doncaster before playing to packed houses at the Hackney Empire.

Dominic Hingorani is Reader in Theatre and Performance, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London.

Thursday 9th February 2017, 2 – 5pm, UEL, Docklands Campus, Room EB.G.08

East London has been at the forefront of thinking about poverty and poverty alleviation and has long been associated with having some of the highest levels in the country.  

This seminar will explore the changing pattern of deprivation in East London, and its implications for our understanding of poverty in East London and how to address it.  The London Borough of Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets have consistently ranked as having some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country (based on the Index of Multiple deprivation).  However, the most recent 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation revealed relatively dramatic improvements in their relative levels of deprivation. For example, The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, ranked as having the third highest level of deprivation in the country in 2004, dropped to 7th in 2010 and 24th in 2015.

How do we explain these trends? Is the substantial investment in Urban Regeneration resulting in a reduction in deprivation? Is their Olympic aim of social convergence with the rest of London actually underway? Or do other factors account for it? Has deprivation increased elsewhere? Or is it simply evidence of gentrification as London’s stretched housing market draws more middle classes to the East End?

This seminar will bring together Academics and Policy Makers to shed light on these trends and consider the implications for policy.


Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham

Jamie Simpson, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Liz Fenton, Growth Boroughs

Alasdair Rae, University of Sheffield

Mark Fransham, University of Oxford

Chaired by Penny Bernstock, Director of CELS

To book a place(s) please follow the Eventbrite link:

Thursday 19th January 2017, 5 – 7pm, UEL, University Square Stratford (USS) Room US1.01


Lucinda Matthew-Jones, Liverpool John Moores University: East London Settling: A photo-essay of the University Settlement Movement

Eddie Playfair, Newham Sixth Form College: From Toynbee Hall to London Citizens (via Chicago)

Laura Vaughan, UCL Bartlett School of Architecture: The relationship between physical segregation and economic marginalisation in the historical urban environment

To book your place(s) please follow the Eventbrite link: 

Abstracts and Biographies

East London Settling: A photo-essay of the University Settlement Movement

Harvard University Library Open Collection Program offers scholars a unique chance to examine the photographic depictions of the university and social settlement movement in Britain. Most scholarship on this movement relies on written evidence. In this paper Lucinda will turn from the mind’s eye to examine how the photographic eye captured the East End and conveys a sense of settling. The settlement movement was based on the ideas of neighbourliness, knowledge and understanding. By turning to a consideration of the photographs taken by two settlement houses, Toynbee Hall (Whitechapel) and St Margaret’s House (Bethnal Green), Lucinda will illustrate what it meant to settle in East London.  

Lucinda Matthews-Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century British History at Liverpool John Moores University. She is currently working on a book length study of the university and social settlement movement in the period 1880-1920. She has published work on the settlement movement in 'Journal of Victorian Culture', John Arnold and Sean Brady's 'What is Masculinity' with forthcoming work appearing in 'Historical Journal' and 'Women's History Review'. Together with Timothy W. Jones, she edited the 2015 volume 'Material Religion in Modern Britain'.  

From Toynbee Hall to London Citizens (via Chicago)

The settlement movement in East London has played an important role in the development of social work and raising issues of poverty and inequality. This talk will briefly trace the development of community action and organising in East London from the university settlements created in the late 19th century via the urban settlement houses in the US they inspired, back to East London with the community organising of The East London Citizens Organisation. 

Eddie Playfair is the Principal of Newham Sixth Form College, a large comprehensive college for young people aged 16-19 and has worked in education in East and North East London for the best part of 30 years. He lives in East London and is not an academic historian.

The relationship between physical segregation and economic marginalisation in the historical urban environment

This talk will cover the origins of the poor problem in London; poverty as a spatial issue, Charles Booth as the first social scientist and what his maps of poverty reveal to us on the role of urban layout in shaping patterns of poverty and prosperity in the city; conclusion: questions of poverty and urban space today.

Laura Vaughan is Professor of Urban Form and Society at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her research addresses the inherent complexity of the urban environment both theoretically and methodologically, most recently in a large study of London’s suburban evolution from the nineteenth century till today (her book Suburban Urbanities was published by UCL Press in 2015). 

She has been researching nineteenth century Whitechapel for over two decades, with studies ranging from the spatial structuring of Charles Booth’s poverty maps to a study of the Jewish East End. Her publications include: Vaughan, L. et al (2007). "Space and Exclusion: Does urban morphology play a part in social deprivation?" Area 37; Vaughan L. (2008) Mapping the East End Labyrinth, in: Werner A. ed Jack the Ripper and the East End. Chatto and Windus: London; Vaughan L., and Geddes I. (2009) Urban Form and Deprivation: A Contemporary Proxy for Charles Booth's Analysis of Poverty, Radical Statistics, 99; “There Was a Priest, a Rabbi and an Imam...: An Analysis of Urban Space and Religious Practice in London's East End, 1685-2010”, Material Religion, 9, 10-35; Vaughan L., and Sailer K. (2017) The Metropolitan Rhythm of a “Majestic Religion”: An Analysis of the Socio-Spatial Configuration of Synagogues in Nineteenth Century Whitechapel, in: Colin Holmes and Kershen A. eds An East End Legacy: Essays in Memory of William J Fishman. Routledge: London.

Tuesday 6th December 2016, 5 – 7pm, University Square Stratford (USS) Room US1.01

*Please note the views expressed in this seminar are not those of the Centre’s.

Speaker: Dr Brian Mihalik, University of South Carolina

To book your place(s) please follow the Eventbrite link:

Centre for East London Studies (CELS) Conference - Evaluating the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games four years on

Tuesday 20th September 2016, 9am – 4pm (Followed by tour of Olympic Park), University Square Stratford

The London Candidate file claimed that ‘The most enduring legacy of the Olympics will be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there, describing it as a model for Social Inclusion’.

More than ten years has passed since London won the bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games and four years since we hosted them so therefore this is an important point at which to evaluate the legacy of the games. The Centre for East London Studies (CELS), located in the School of Social Sciences at the University of East London (UEL) has been at the heart of analysis of legacy and on Tuesday 20th September 2016 hosted its third legacy conference. This conference evaluated the impact of legacy four years on and offer a platform for a wide range of perspectives from policy makers, practitioners and academics, and was followed by a tour of the Olympic Park.   

This conference considered whether we are on track for realising an inclusive legacy?  What has been the impact on the Regeneration of East London, London and the UK?  Are we on track for a sporting legacy?  Have the mechanisms for governing legacy been adequate and what might we learn for future projects? What kind of housing and employment legacy has been created?  How have the games impacted on local residents?  What progress has been made towards convergence and what are the limitations of this agenda? What can we learn about  policy implementation? Were we successful in achieving transformation of  games venues and at what cost?

Featured Speakers

Dr Paul Brickell, Director of Regeneration & Community Partnerships, London Legacy Development Corporation

Julian Cheyne, former tenant of Clays Lane, now member of Games Monitor

Prof Phil Cohen and Dr Debbie Humphry, Directors of LivingMaps

For a full list of speakers please see the programme.

Some of the speaker's presentations from the day are now available to view here.

Some of the speaker's presentations were also filmed on the day, and can be viewed on the Centre for East London Studies YouTube channel.