Mourning urban change: testimonies of disaster and urban catastrophe since 1945
Specialist session at the 8th International Conference on Urban History
Stockholm, 30 August – 2 September 2006.
Deadline for proposal submissions: 1 October 2005.
Natural disasters - fire, flood and famine, earthquake and plague - have been a focus of many studies of individual towns and cities. Often these studies have focused on the physical effects of destruction. Dramatic events attract media hype. Vivid pictures are flashed around the world. For an instant, the locality becomes the centre of attention, nationally and even internationally. Yet disasters have an individual and family dimension too. And once world media attention has subsided, local populations are left to get on with the reconstruction of their lives, as well as with the rebuilding of the urban fabric.
There are also other circumstances that radically influence urban change. Wars usually result in urban catastrophe, there are also cases of deliberate destruction of a city as when neighbourhoods are cleared, central planning imposed or urban redevelopment implemented. These are circumstances forced by human agents that could be considered along with natural disasters as situations that provoke mourning.
This session explores how people mourn change, how they adjust to dramatic new circumstances, how they get on with their lives in the chaos resulting from dramatic events that transform the rhythms and patterns of their lives.
Though concerned principally with oral history, testimonies of mourning welcomed by this session also include written sources, such as memoirs, diaries, literature, poetry, newspaper and media stories that reveal how people 'mourn' the passing of an era, when their cognitive worlds are disrupted, for whatever reason.
This session aims at comparing different European and world cities that have passed through radical urban change in the period of time elapsed since the Second World War. We welcome case studies addressing one, or several, of the following issues:
The concept of “mourning,” its origin as a psychoanalytical concept (travail du deuil) and its use for urban history (and the social sciences in general).
Modernity and change – Is there something intrinsically disruptive in the cultural phenomenon that we usually refer to as modernity? Did modernity bring about significant new ways of coping with radical change at societal level?
Oral histories as alternative versions of urban change to dominant discourse; interchange of personal experiences, media stories and official history.
Competing narratives - class, ethnic or gender construction of narratives on urban change.
Everyday life and processes of human adjustment on radical urban change.
Continuity and/or rupture, how people re-construct continuity - old and new social and cultural practices.
Collective memory - Building collective narratives around disruptive events - new community identities and commemorations of urban catastrophe.
We invite historians, anthropologists, sociologists, art and literary historians, architects and others whose work might shed light on the subject proposed. Please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words and a short CV by October 1, 2005 to both of the session organisers.
For further details of the Conference organization and site, registration, bursaries etc., see:
Dr. Maria Raluca Popa
New Europe College, Institute for Advanced Studies, Bucharest, Romania
Rotterdamseweg 296, 2628 AT Delft, The Netherlands
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Dr. Valentina Gulin Zrnic
Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Ul. kralja Zvonimira 17,
Zagreb 10 000, Croatia
Valentina Gulin Zrnic
Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research
Ulica kralja Zvonimira 17
Zagreb 10 000, Croatia
phone: ++ 385 1 4553 632
fax: ++ 385 1 4553 649 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://www.eauh.org
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