Call for Papers (Im)material Memory Traces in the Urban Landscape (Europe, 19th-20th Century)

Deadline for submission: October 31, 2015

Liège, Place du Maréchal Foch, Monument de la Victoire, Ugent adore BRKZ.TOPO.992.O.01

Cities are far from neutral spaces. The urban landscape reflects tensions and reveals conflicting interests. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century political organisations, cultural associations, learned societies and religious communities consciously produced and reused urban spaces to express and expand their local prominence and influence. Moreover, through (im)material traces, such as impressive buildings, public sculptures, street names, commemorative plaques, parades, public ceremonies etc., these local agencies invested the urban landscape with selected narratives, histories, memories and symbols.

At the same time, the meaning of (im)material memory traces is often the subject of controversy, conflict, contest and negotiation. Within the city, multiple voices challenge the identities represented by these traces. Opposing groups, minorities or regular citizens reappropriate them and subsequently invest these sites with new meanings and new ceremonies. As memories shift through time, these traces will also have new meanings for future generations.

Likewise, (im)material traces are subject to the evolving urban landscape. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century cities underwent profound urban transformations, which had considerable impacts on, for instance, their specific spatial context, visibility or accessibility. These urban changes sometimes even result in their replacements or demolitions.

Following the spatial turn of the 1970s and 1980s in human sciences, urban historians consider the urban space as a determining factor in socio-economic, cultural and political processes, while many others rarely consider the spatial embedding of (im)material memory traces. The power of (im)material memory traces is nonetheless very much related to their specific and well-considered location within the urban landscape.

Therefore, we invite submissions that will consider the role of (im)material memory traces, how they transform the urban landscape into a battleground and how their relation with the evolving urban landscape and populations changes over time. All papers relevant to the subject of (im)material memory traces are welcomed, but we especially encourage applications that relate these traces, the urban landscape, memory and space to the following key themes:
– the Sense of Place
– the Politics of Space
– Place, Memory and Identity
– Place, Memory and Affect
– Contingent and contested Meanings
– Absent, Silenced and suppressed Memories

Keywords(im)material symbols, cultural geography, cultural history, memorials, political history, urban identities, urban memory, urban spaceSession organisers:

Karen Vannieuwenhuyze, Power in History – Centre for Political History, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Karla Vanraepenbusch, Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (Cegesoma), Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium

 Deadline for paper proposals: 

October 31, 2015. Please submit your paper proposals to the EAUH website (Session M25).

This session will take place during the 13th International Conference on Urban History (August 24-27, 2016, Helsinki), organised by the European Association for Urban History.