For the likes of us? Retelling the classed production of a British university campus
This paper contributes to recent critical geographical writing on university campuses by setting their physical production and reproduction centre stage and taking an historical perspective. Focusing on a single case study campus in the UK we revisit the archival record on its planning and early years, revealing gaps between stated intentions of increasing equality between social classes and discourses and practices which reinforced middle and upper class cultural hegemony. We then draw on oral history interviews with residents of the social housing estates immediately adjacent to the campus, including its former builders and cleaners, to explore the spatialized subjectivities of people who were generally absent from the consultations conducted by the university’s planners, and whose perspectives are not found in its official history. The findings confirm the idea of university campuses as paradoxical spaces for their working-class neighbours, at once excluding and, in unexpected ways, potentially transformational.
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