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Meat, masculinity and the marketplace: Smithfield in the late 20th Century

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Koch
    Dr W Monteith
    Prof A Owens
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


The end of meat is coming, so say various Extinction Rebellion posters around London. In Smithfield, at the heart of The City, this is undeniably the case as the UK’s largest and longest-running wholesale market edges towards permanent closure. The western end of the so-called ‘Cathedral of Meat’ is being transformed to make space for a new Museum of London while market traders face relocation to the urban fringe. Time is running out and there is a vital history to be written. Smithfield Market is a unique and legendary place: a throwback to a disappearing London. It is a male dominated workplace where jobs still pass from father to son, and women are marginalised by a meaty masculine culture. And yet, the market endured in the post-war era by evolving with the city. It weathered the decline of high street butchers and the rise of supermarkets by supplying large numbers of kebab and chicken shops, accommodating religious preferences around meat, catering to changing demographics and cultural tastes, and upgrading in the 1990s to comply with EU standards.

This collaborative project involves a partnership between the School of Geography at Queen Mary University and the Museum of London. The successful applicant will work between the two partners conducting research that will capture the recent history of Smithfield Market before it literally becomes a museum. Using archival material and oral history, it will document the livelihoods and culinary cultures it supported, using the site to understand wider transformations in London’s past and future. The student will be based at QMUL in the School of Geography, but will also benefit from the training opportunities, research and curatorial expertise of the Museum. Anticipated outcomes from the project include not only the PhD thesis, but contributions to the teaching, research and display activities of the new Museum of London.

The studentship includes a stipend at the Research Council UK Home/ EU rate (£17,009 per annum 2019/20 rates) plus tuition fees for three and half years. The awarded candidate will also be entitled to a £550 per annum stipend top-up. As a LAHP student, the successful candidate will have full access to the LAHP Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 90 students per year. Studentships can be either full or part-time.

For further information and how to apply for the studentship, please see the LAHP website (https://www.lahp.ac.uk/collaborative-doctoral-awards-studentship-projects-available/)

Related Subjects

How good is research at Queen Mary University of London in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 31.35

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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