Legal and historical geographies of the Greenham Common protest camps in the 1980s

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This article examines the women's protest camps at RAF Greenham Common cruise missile base, Berkshire, England, between 1981 and 1990. Using new evidence from government correspondence in the Home Office archives, it argues that the legal status of the common and its history were key determinants of how the protest camps were policed and repeatedly evicted. The processes of eviction were determined by the complex layers of landownership, common rights, and legislation relating to commons and roadside verges. Protesters developed spatial and legal tactics during the processes of eviction, while sharing broader imaginings of an ideal of commons as publicly accessible to all. This article places Greenham Common in the context of the Conservative government's reaction to other protest and social movements in the countryside that ultimately shaped the formation of public order legislation in 1986 and 1994.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Early online date11 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2023


  • Commons
  • Enclosure
  • Greenham common
  • Protest
  • Public order


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