Research

Civic Imaginaries are 'acts of inventive, prospective thinking about the societies in which we live' (The Civic Imagination, Baiocchi et al., 2015).

With funding from Hull University and the Leverhulme Trust, I am researching the concept of civic imaginaries as a way of framing and deepening understandings of political and cultural behaviour in Hull. 

 

Various interpretations and applications of imaginaries have been developed in the field of Human and Cultural Geography.  In comparison with geographical, sociological or political imaginaries, however, the literature on civic imaginaries is relatively small. Also, the concept remains vague and contested: how is it relevant to 21st century Britain?

My PhD project is looking at civic imaginaries as dreamt, argued, embodied and enacted in my birth city of Kingston Upon Hull.  In 2016, Hull voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union, a decision interpreted by many as inward looking and protectionist.  In 2017, this city staged the UK City of Culture, perceived to be an outward facing, cosmopolitan event. For some, a 'Brexit city' hosting UK City of Culture is therefore paradoxical. Without disputing the importance of nationalism in these debates, I suggest that regional and civic feelings have played key roles. Now in my third year, my thinking and writing is focusing on the emotions of civic pride and civic shame in order to nuance our understandings of localised identities and political behaviour in places such as Hull, that have been described as ‘left-behind’, ‘structurally disadvantaged’ or ‘territorially stigmatised’.

I have started to present my work on these ideas at conferences and seminars and recently published an article in the Critical Fish. I hope to publish more soon and will add links here. In the meantime, if any elements of my research are of interest to you, please get in touch at: m.howcroft@2017.hull.ac.uk