Studying From Above: A View of London

A reflection by Maxine Thomas-Asante, written while studying for my MSc.

As I sit on floor 11 of the Centre Building on the LSE Campus I cannot help being taken aback by the views of London. From floor 11, not only do you look out at London, but almost down at it. The positioning of myself in relation to the buildings around me elevates me, almost in a way that says “all of this is mine for the taking”. 

I take a moment to flirt with the idea of “taking London”. It feels sexy and powerful. It feels sexy and powerful. Was this the intention of the architect designing a university building for an elite institution in the heart of London. This institution – that produces many of the leaders, researchers thinkers of our generation.

If I “take London” does that imply taking it from someone else? Would I be “taking London” from someone who has more of a right to their city but lacks access to this view, lacks access to these books, lacks access to these peers? If I didn’t establish this hierarchy and gatekeeping system, is it my role to dismantle it? I cannot help but feel that the answer to that question is unequivocally yes. 

I wonder what it means to attend a university like this for a person who is not struck by these thoughts. For the students who are surrounded by people who look like them, think like them, navigate like them. Are these thoughts they would even pause to consider? Are these thoughts I should be pausing to consider? At times the weight of this perpetual hesitation distracts me from undertaking the work being demanded of me. Work I should get back to.

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