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Narrating the city: diverse spaces of urban change, South London

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This paper explores the documentation of social and spatial transformation in the Walworth area, South London. Spatial narratives are the entry point for my exploration, where official and 'unofficial' representations of history are aligned to capture the nature of urban change. Looking at the city from street level provides a worldly view of social encounter and spaces that are expressive of how citizens experience and shape the city. A more distanced view of the city accessed from official data reveals different constructs. In overlaying near and far views and data and experience, correlations and contestations emerge. As a method of research, the narrative is the potential palimpsest, incorporating fragments of the immediate and historic without representing a comprehensive whole. In this paper Walworth is documented as a local and Inner City context where remnants and insertions are juxtaposed, where white working class culture and diverse ethnicities experience difference and change. A primary aim is to consider the diverse experiences of groups and individuals over time, through their relationship with their street, neighbourhood and city. In relating the Walworth area to London I use three spatial narratives to articulate the contemporary and historic relationship of people to place: the other side examines the physical discrimination between north and south London, the other half looks at distinctions of class and race and other histories explores the histories displaced from official accounts.

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