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This conference, organised by the Centre for Metropolitan History, aims to explore the shifting experiences, representations and status of vagrancy in relation to the history of British settlement. How can exploring the images and realities of vagrancy sharpen our understanding of the histories of ‘settled’ communities, cities and parishes, which have otherwise been articulated from a sedentary perspective?

Plenary speakers are: 

  • Professor Patricia Fumerton (University of California, Santa Barbara), Crossing the limits of the Shakespearean stage: roguery, mobility, and balladry in "The Winter's Tale"
  • Professor Nicholas Crowson (University of Birmingham), Vagrant life stories: rediscovering the tramp between the 1880s and 1930s
  •  Professor Tim Hitchcock (University of Sussex), Hard choices and bad laws: Navigating crime, vagrancy and poverty in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The conference will take place over two days, Wednesday 6th to Thursday 7th December 2017, at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU).

Fees (includes refreshments and lunch on day(s) booked and a drinks reception if booking covers 6th December)

Two-day full attendance, £55

Two-day attendance concessionary rate for speakers, students, unwaged and retired, £45

Single-day attendance - 6th December £30; 7th December £25

Provisional Programme

‘Unsettled Legacies’ Bursary

We are pleased to announce that eight bursaries of £100 have been made available for registered postgraduates and early career delegates (speakers or non-speakers) at the conference. These bursaries will help to support attendance and are awarded following the completion of a short reflective post for the Stray Voices blog: (

How to apply

Current postgraduates and or early career researchers are welcome to apply. To be eligible for the bursary, applicants should provide the following to Dr Peter Jones ( by 30 November 2017:

  • Your contact details and short CV
  • A title and brief abstract of the proposed blog post (100-200 words), which meets the following criteria:

a) Sets out your pitch for a 500-1500 word blog post that relates in some way to the themes of the conference or the ‘Stray Voices’ project. Suggested themes are as follows: the relationship between vagrancy, homelessness and the ‘settled’ community; the human effects of residential mobility, housing insecurity and eviction; shifting models for the provision of shelter, welfare and ‘relief’ for those without access to secure accommodation.

b) Explores how your own research exploring these themes might intersect with present day debates relating to homelessness, housing or unsettled poverty.