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School of Geography

Inaugural Lecture of Professor Alastair Owens

11 October 2017

Time: 7:00 - 10:00pm
Venue: V & A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA

Lecture abstract

How do the wealthy maintain their prosperity and status? How do they transmit property and assets to future generations? This inaugural lecture will examine the way that Victorian and Edwardian families passed on their wealth at death. In exploring middle-class inheritance, it will develop a wider argument about the significance of ‘wealthfare’ in understanding longer term patterns of social change and inequality in Britain. The concept of ‘wealthfare’ not only directs attention to the practices of property transmission that individuals and families engaged in, it also encompasses the wider institutional and state supports – such as the law, fiscal incentives, and financial protection – that underpinned wealth accumulation and enabled wealthy people to provide for themselves. Using the example of inheritance, the lecture aims to illustrate the value of ‘wealthfare’ as a framework for understanding the unequal relationships between people, private property and the state in modern Britain.

Meet our Professor

Professor Alastair OwensAlastair Owens is Professor of Historical Geography in the School of Geography where he has taught since 2001. He took his first degree at King’s College London before completing a PhD at Queen Mary in the late 1990s. A previous winner of the College’s Drapers’ Award for Teaching, Alastair lectures across the human geography programme at Queen Mary, leading a popular third year course on Victorian London and another on the north American city of Boston, which includes a field trip to that city. His research examines families, gender and wealth in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain; material culture and domestic life in Victorian London; and the history of child welfare. This work has been supported by grants from a range of funding bodies including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the Philomathia Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust. Collaboration and public engagement are hallmarks of Alastair’s research which has included projects with the Geffrye Museum of the Home, V&A Museum of Childhood, the Bank of England, Museum of London Archaeology and the Ragged School Museum (where he is a trustee). Alastair also co-edits the Journal of Victorian Culture.

**A reception with wine and canapés will follow the lecture, and there will be an opportunity to explore the museum galleries as well.**

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