Firstly a brief introduction: My name is Charlotte Mallinson. I am a first year PhD student. I’m one of the ‘new kids’ as I only started my PhD 3 weeks ago. I didn’t take the most orthodox route into academia, in fact I didn’t even step into a university until I was 34 years old. Nevertheless, in 2011 I graduated with 1st class Hons in Heritage Studies and English Literature here at Huddersfield. Inspired by both my final dissertation, ‘Exploited Female Corporeal Communications and Suicidal Tendencies in Selected Works of Djuna Barnes’ and a second year heritage project I undertook, entitled, ‘ The Present of Past People: A Case Study into the Representations of Death with London’s Heritage Industry’, my research interests became quite narrowly focused on to the ascribed social, cultural and historic values and connotations applied to the cadaver, specifically the female cadaver. An amalgamation, which resulted in the completion of my History MA (also undertaken at the University of Huddersfield) and the production of its component dissertation, ‘Ripped Whores and Heritage Tours: Dehumanisation of the Whitechapel Murder Victims’. In this I essentially argue how since their murders in 1888, representations of the victims of the Whitechapel murderer has undergone a continuation of various processes of dehumanisation. Consequently, mentions of their lives, deaths and cadaveric state are only ever tenuously included in the narrative to permit the idolatry of their killer. Further still when the women are mentioned they and their deceased bodies are frequently subjected to scorn and overt ridicule. Arguably, it is these processes of depersonalisation which permit the lucrative industry that has emerged from their murders. It is at this point I begin my PhD, which is still focusing on the history of the ‘Whitechapel Murders’.
For me one of the starkest elements revealed in my MA research was the high level o fheritage tourism this internationally renown, period of late Victorian history, attracts to the tiny London suburb of Whitechapel. There are approximately 1000 tourists per night partaking in the various tours, which visit the sites where the most famous (aka, the canonical) victims, namely Mary Ann ( commonly known as) Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly were killed and mutilated.Yet, these sites are only minutes away from where today’s Whitechapel street sex workersnow offer their trade. Furthermore, the participants on these tours receive a very mixed welcome from those in the locality; local residents are often verbally abusive towards the them, whereas local business owners (particularly the restaurateurs) welcome them all with open arms. Consequently, I am aiming to compile a thesis which is a product of ‘shared authority’, as I have proposed that I will to be working with a number of Whitechapel based resident associations and sex worker support groups to compile an array of oral histories.
These will be takenfrom local residents and those associated with the area and are to include histories which will be taken from contemporary street, sex workers. In the interviews I will want to learn (amongst other things) about ‘Whitechapel life’ 125 years after the murders, what the individuals feel about the tourist legacy, which the murders have left and how interviewees feel ‘ their’ local history has shaped their identities from both ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ perspectives. Hopefully from these interviews I will then be able to examine how living under the ‘umbrella’ of a negative internationally renownmetahistory impacts on local identities, which is essentially the crux of my research.
If any of you would like to know about my research, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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