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Center for Metropolitan StudiesMerrill, Samuel

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Samuel Merrill (Associate Fellow)


Postdoctoral Researcher; Umeå University, Sweden



Excavating Buried Memories: Mnemonic Production in the Railways Beneath London and Berlin

In recent years, urban subterranean infrastructure has gained increasing popular and academic attention as growing public recognition of its cultural potential has been accompanied by intellectual trends that have attended to the taken for granted facets of the city and urban life. Examples of subterranean transport infrastructure characterise this contradictory position insofar as they represent landscapes with both quotidian and mythic qualities. Despite this the number of published socio-cultural investigations of such landscapes is limited. As such, this research project investigates two European examples, The London Underground and Der Berliner UBahn through a cultural landscape approach and adopts the production of social memory as a thematic focus. The investigation is framed by four key questions.

  • What actors are involved in the production of social memory in the landscapes of the London Underground and Berlin UBahn?
  • What means and processes are involved in the production of this social memory and how do they differ in respect to the actors involved?
  • What discourses influence the production of social memory in these landscapes, which can be characterised as shared singular processes contextually mediated and which can be considered contextually unique?
  • What is the significance of these landscape’s subterranean transport context to the production of social memory?

This research adopts a case-orientated comparative analysis, which will be supported by the use of instrumental case studies guided in some instances by transnational comparative perspectives, which will enable one case to pose questions of the other. An eclectic range of data collection methods will be used to inform three to four empirical chapters. These methods will primarily involve archive, field and ethnographic survey. The empirical chapters aim to demonstrate the depth and width of the landscape and memory concepts employed by the research project. They will focus on memorials and absences, maps and diagrams, ruins and vestiges, and customs and habits. 

The conceptual use of landscape aims to reconcile the physical, representational and experiential nature of networked spaces and places in new urban contexts. The notion of social memory applied appreciates a range of mnemonic processes, practices and expressions that can be traced in space, representations and the body and acknowledges their commingling, pluralistic, contested and dynamic nature.

This project aims to demonstrate that quotidian landscapes reflect social memory production and hopes to illuminate the complexity of actors, processes and discourses involved in social memory production and the influence of subterranean transport settings in the uniquely urban contexts of the London Underground and Berlin UBahn.



Since 05/2015
Postdoctoral Researcher; Umeå University, Sweden

05/2012 - 05/2015
DFG Associate Fellow at the International Graduate Research Program Berlin - New York - Toronto, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin, Germany
10/2010 – 05/2011
Department of Geography, UCL – Tutor

The Department of Architectural Conservation BTU Cottbus - Visiting lecturer

The Berlin Wall Documentation Centre – Archaeologist

10/2009 - 08/2010
The Department of Architectural Conservation BTU Cottbus – Graduate Research Assistant

03/2009 - 08/2009
Tourism Research Unit, Monash University Melbourne: Research Assistant

2007 - 2009
Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus, Germany, Master of Arts in World Heritage Studies

10/2006 – 04/2007
UNESCO Wales National Committee, Project Assistant (Voluntary)

2003 - 2006
University of Birmingham, UK, Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Archaeology


Heritage Interpretation and Vandalism
Heritage Tourism and International Development
Difficult Heritage and Dark Tourism 


Merrill, S. (forthcoming under review) ‘Identities in Transit’ : The (Re)connections and (Re)brandings of Berlins Municipal Railway Infrastructure after 1989, The Journal of Historical Geography.

Merrill, S. (2013) ‘The London Underground Diagram: Between Palimpsest and Canon’, The London Journal, 38 (3), pp. 245-264. Doi: 10.1179/0305803413Z.00000000033.

Merrill, S. (2012) ‘Looking Forward to the Past: London Underground’s 150th Anniversary’, The Journal of Transport History, 33 (2), pp. 243-252. Doi: 10.7227/TJTH.33.2.6.

Merrill, S. (Forthcoming: submitted, accepted and due in 2016) ‘The Tunnels of Berlin’s S- and U-Bahn’, ‘The Viengxay Caves of the Pathet Lao’, ‘Stockholm’s Atomic Bomb Defences’, in Dobraszczyk, P., Galviz, C. L. and Garrett, B.L. (eds.) Undergrounds: exploring cities within, Reaktion (each 800-1000 word entries).

Merrill, S. (Forthcoming: submitted, accepted and due in 2015) ‘Negotiating the buried memories and myths of World War Two in the railways beneath London and Berlin’, in Reeves, K. and James, L. (eds.) Battlefield Events: Landscape, Commemoration and Heritage, Routledge.

Merrill, S. (2013) ‘Frederick Abrams' Underground Cathedral: journeys of artistic discovery in the undergrounds of the world’, in Galviz, C. L. and Merrill, S. (eds.) (2013) Going Underground: new perspectives, London: LTM, pp. 82-91

Merrill, S. and Jasper, S. (2014) ‘Was ist so Berlin? Eine kritische Rezension aktueller Linien und Fragestellungen der Stadtforschung in der deutschen Hauptstadt’, sub\urban zeitschrift für kritische stadtforschung, 2 (2), pp. 5-14 (Also available in English: ‘What is so Berlin? A critical review of urban research’s trajectories and issues in the German capital’).

Merrill, S. (2014) ‘London Underground: A Cultural Geography by David Ashford’, The Journal of Transport History, 35 (1), pp.134-136.

Merrill, S. (2014) ‘New York's Subterranean Paradoxes: A Review Of Subway’, Opticon1826, 16 (5), Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/opt.bp.

Merrill, S.O.C. & Hack, H. (2013) Exploring Hidden Narratives: Conscript Graffiti at the Former Military Base ‘Kummersdorf’, Journal of Social Archaeology

Merrill, S.O.C. (2012) World Heritage, Tourism and the Millennium Development Goals: From Sites to Systems, in André de Rocha, A. (ed) World Heritage Today: Challenges for Interpretation, Conservation and Development. Verlag Dr.Köster: Berlin, pp. 161-183

Merrill, S.O.C. (2011) Graffiti at Heritage Places: Vandalism as Cultural Significance or Conservation Sacrilege? Time and Mind 4 (1): pp. 59-75

Merrill, S. (2009) Review of Ancient Hampi. History Australia 6 (3): pp. 80.1-80.2


UCL Personal Website: www.homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~ucfasom/


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