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Sam Merrill


Sam Merrill works in the area of "Mobilität und Raum" preparing his Dissertation "The Production of Social Memory in the Landscapes of London and Berlin´s Subterranean Transport Infrastructure".
As such he investigates ocial memory in the physical, representational and experiential landscapes of the London Underground and Berlin U-Bahn.

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.

Commenced: Oct 2010
Expected Completion: Dec 2013

Working Experience
Period of time
10/2010 - 05/2011
Department of Geography, UCL, London
Visiting lecturer
The Department of Architectural Conservation BTU Cottbus
The Berlin Wall Documentation Centre
10/2009 - 08/2010
Graduate Research Assistant
The Department of Architectural Conservation BTU Cottbus, Germany
03/2009 - 08/2009
Research Assistant
Tourism Research Unit, Monash University Melbourne

10/2006 - 04/2007
Project Assistant (Voluntary)
UNESCO Wales National Committee
University Education
Period of Time
course of studies
2007 - 2009
Master of Arts in World Heritage Studies
BrandenburgischeTechnischeUniversität Cottbus, Germany
2003 - 2006
Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Birmingham, UK
Merrill, S.O.C. (2012) Looking Forward to the Past: London Underground’s 150th Anniversary, Journal of Transport History, Forthcoming
Merrill, S.O.C. & Hack, H. (2012) Exploring Hidden Narratives: Conscript Graffiti at the Former Military Base ‘Kummersdorf’, Journal of Social Archaeology, Forthcoming
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. VerlagDr.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


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