‘London is avocado on toast’: The urban imaginaries of the #LondonIsOpen campaign

Yazici, Edanur; Murji, Karim; Keith, Michael; Pile, Steve; Solomos, John and Wang, Ying (2023). ‘London is avocado on toast’: The urban imaginaries of the #LondonIsOpen campaign. Urban Studies, 60(12) pp. 2418–2435.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980221149841


This article examines the production, representations and reactions to the #LondonIsOpen campaign to ask how urban imaginaries are produced and what they entail for understanding the city. The analysis considers how the idea of a cosmopolitan, diverse and multicultural city is framed, what it includes and excludes and the distinct geographies of the city it produces. It draws on three data sources: documentary analysis of videos used in the campaign; social media analysis of tweets using #LondonIsOpen; and semi-structured interviews with key figures in the campaign team. The main arguments are that the appeal to openness contributes to the versatility of the campaign and the range of responses to it, making it highly adaptable and flexible to respond to current affairs; and that open London is geographically selective and imagined as business focused, trendy and cosmopolitan. In turn, the reactions to the idea of open London range from seeking a borderless world to anti-migrant rhetoric. Although the campaign represents London as welcoming and inclusive, such welcoming is partial and subject to contestation. The article concludes that over time, the openness of #LondonIsOpen has come to serve multiple political functions and act as a brand for the city.

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