Research in urban history: a review of recent theses
|CAROLINE L. MILLER a1|
a1 Planning Programme, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
In keeping with past experiences, 2005 produced a rich range of 70 theses that address urban history topics. Equally, as in past years, the topics the theses address are marked by diversity that itself is reflective of the nature of the urban experience. As usual the theses reviewed here are drawn from the Index of Theses located at http://www.theses.com/, which now also features Irish theses, and Dissertations International located at http://wwwli.umi.com/dissertations. This year's crop of theses has proved somewhat easier to categorize than has been the case in previous years and has seen the emergence of some new topics. In particular there is a noticeable interest in what might be called the urban environment and its functioning, which leads to interest in the infrastructural aspects of the city. This is not a new agenda for urban historians but it does also reflect the growth of environmental history and seems to represent an intersection of the two areas. It is also a consequence of the dominance of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in urban history, which of itself tends to bring infrastructure to the historian's notice. Another interesting area of study that is emerging as the result of the opening of Soviet era archives is that of city planning, reconstruction and history in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc countries. Theses from American universities continued to predominate with 68 per cent being drawn from their institutions. The proportion from Great Britain dropped to 21 per cent but the percentage from other countries, predominantly Canadian universities, increased to 11 per cent. The earlier production of this article may be the reason for the reduction in the British proportion rather than a real decline in numbers. There were noticeable clusters of theses coming from Stanford University (7.6 per cent of the total), with the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University each producing 6.1 per cent of the theses produced. In Britain there was a small cluster that emerged from the Open University and among the ‘other’ group, Toronto University was the only institution to produce more than one thesis.