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Keywords:

  • riots;
  • cities;
  • children

This commentary sets out an agenda for researching the riots that swept through English cities in 2011, and for exploring the broader issues raised by these events. Drawing inspiration from groundbreaking social and cultural geographies of the 1981 riots, and also from mappings and quantitative studies of the more recent disturbances, this paper sets out a framework for researching the riots, and underlines the importance of doing so. It concludes that while riots are traumatic experiences for many, they can also be opportunities, which effective research can help to realise, recasting these events as catalysts for change.