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Stories

Wapping Dispute

6 men and their dog

Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant.

This project is the result of a collaboration between a poet and a geographer, and we are proposing to develop a method of digital mapping and Radical Landscape Poetry in order to investigate the role of the urban landscape in the events of the 1986 Wapping Dispute. Northeastern University London is situated around St Katherine’s Dock in Wapping. The local area was home to the headquarters of News International (NI) between 1986 and 2005 and was the site of bitter industrial action between NI and print worker unions who opposed the sacking of nearly 6,000 workers in the move from NI’s former printing plant in Fleet Street, the historic home of the printing industry in London and the U.K.

The project focuses on the challenges and benefits of two contrasting methodologies to conceptualizing strike action: creative cartography and digital mapping. Poems are mental maps which form exploratory inquiries into places and spaces, while digital mapping offers an instant and tangible multi-layered impression of place. We are proposing to investigate the role of space and place in one of the most significant industrial disputes in British history by combining these two methods.

The project has three primary aims: firstly, to digitize key archival resources in order to map and elaborate on the patterns and clusters of strike action; secondly, to generate a landscape-focused poetic sequence which responds to these patterns with an innovative and appropriate form which incorporates methods from the digital humanities; and thirdly, to contribute to academic discussions on the role of space, place and strike action. The Wapping Dispute is a significant case study for understanding contemporary events related to the introduction of automation, the recent resurgence of industrial action and the impact of urban regeneration schemes.

Primary Investigators

Sam Kemp, Faculty, Creative Writing; Amil Mohanan, Faculty, Philosophy

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