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Mapping Paris Podcast


Written by
Pauline Blanchet

Despite pandemic conditions, the 2020/21 cohort of MA Urban History and Culture students have produced a fascinating series of site-based podcasts mapping their study of Paris. Read more.

The MA in Urban History and Culture (MA UHC) at the University of London Insitute in Paris (ULIP) is a unique way of learning about Paris and its history. Our first couple of months included a Perec-inspired writing exercise at Saint-Sulpice, a trip to the Immigration Museum, and a visit to the Quai Branly Museum. 

From analysing the consequences of colonisation in museum curation to ‘exhausting’ the space through observational writing, programme director Professor Anna-Louise Milne introduced us to Paris with a skill set to uncover its many layers. Our first assignment was a great example. 

Using an interdisciplinary approach, students were introduced to a practice-led exercise. The task was simple: choose a site, explore it, and write a 1,500-word essay. Before the curfews crept in, we each went on to pick somewhere we wanted to discover. Our cohort is extremely mixed, filled with different interests, perspectives, and approaches. This led to an eclectic mix of site visits. 

As the lockdown settled over us, I searched for a way to stay in touch. This is where the idea for the podcast, Mapping Paris, was born. It would incorporate everyone’s experience of their first essay. It was also a great excuse to have meetings, catch up and chat during this particularly isolating time. 

Using the site visit essay as the basis of the script, each student recorded their episode. In the end, we created a mini-series podcast of 4-10-minute episodes, each discovering a different site. Led by the students in the MA UHC cohort, each episode takes the listener into a new site in Paris.

Mapping Paris Podcast Image Cover

After completing my BA at SOAS in Development Studies and Linguistics, I had a yearning to study the city. My research has always led me to questions regarding how cities behave. From how cities respond to displacement to slang in Marseille, the MA UHC at ULIP seemed a productive and exciting place to be. My background is in non-fiction podcast and film production. I believe these mediums are accessible and I wanted to bring this medium to my peers. 

As a team, we collaborated to find our skillset and I ended up working closely with Sumayyah and Renée, both students on the MA Urban History and Culture programme. 

My producer is Sumayyah Sheikh, a recent BA History graduate from Queen Mary University of London. She was drawn to the Master’s programme due to her interdisciplinary interests in utopian architecture, history of the emotion and transnational geographies of diaspora, as well as the opportunity to further examine the dynamics of urban space, from the role of museums to the significance of street art. 

Our social media manager is Renée Rodriguez. She is originally from Honduras and later spent several years living in both Miami and New York. Before pursuing her Master’s, Renee worked in marketing/public relations and event management with a specific focus on music. Her experiences in these particular cities and fields opened her eyes to the many layers of urban life, including the role culture plays within it and also the importance of preserving cultural institutions. She chose to attend ULIP for the chance to explore an iconic city such as Paris and gain insight into the city’s rich urban history in a more academic sense. A storyteller at heart, she was eager and excited to develop the branding and manage social media for Mapping Paris. 

To get started, the series starts with Anna-Louise Milne discussing the idea behind the site visit essay as she walks around the ULIP building. Following her episode, we have sites including the Hasard Ludique from Liz Golz, Egyptomania across Paris from Sumayyah Sheikh, and the virtual Louvre from Renée Rodriguez. 

Twice a month on a Monday, find a new episode here: 

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