"Paris of the ...": Negotiating the Parisian Urban Model in Eastern European and Latin American Cities, 1850-1930
Session at 12th International Conference on Urban History
European Association for Urban History (EAUH)
September 3-6, 2014
We invite everyone interested to submit a paper proposal (in the form of a 300-word abstract) for a specialist conference session (maximum 4 presenters) exploring the many connections between Paris and the modernizing cities of the European and transatlantic periphery -- Eastern Europe and Latin America -- in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
While one purpose of the panel will be to compare the experiences of these two regions in relation to the Parisian template of the modern city, individual papers need not propose to make this comparison directly. Topics drawing connections between Paris and a single city in either Eastern Europe OR Latin America are most welcome. The official description (Session #63 on the EAUH 2014 website) is as follows:
The grand rebuilding of Paris by Napoleon III (1851-1870) and its location at the center of European and trans-Atlantic intellectual, political, and cultural networks had a profound impact on the rest of the world. In the 19th and early 20th century international travelers as well as local elites—planners, architects, journalists, artists, writers, and others—dubbed newly modernizing cities throughout Europe and the Americas as the “Paris of the East,” the “Paris of the South,” or the “Paris of” another notable territory outside France, using references and comparisons to the French metropolis as a multivalent trope to describe their own passage into modern life. Over time, however, after striving to invent or discern a “Paris” in their own backyard, some urban reformers, boosters, and intellectuals in these far-flung cities came to embrace the opposite goal—that of distancing themselves from Parisian resemblances and influences in favor of local identities and traditions.
This complex relationship with Paris was especially prominent in Latin America and Eastern Europe, two regions situated on the immediate periphery of Western modernity, both with aspirations to achieve a level not only of economic development but also of cultural achievement on par with the French example. While historians have long compared these areas in order to understand the dynamics of modernization and nation-building in a context of economic dependency, little attention has been paid to the similarities in their urban histories, most notably their experiences of metropolitan expansion, urban reform, migration and tourism, consumerism, bohemianism, modernism, and the many varieties of cultural nationalism. The objective of this session is to reopen and reinvigorate this comparison of the borderlands of modern Western urbanity by bringing together the different narratives of these imagined Parises and their alternatives, as they were articulated between the 1850s and the 1930s in the urban spaces of several Latin American and Eastern European cities. The subthemes that we would like to explore are:
- Cultural translations/re-imaginings/mappings of Paris in Latin American and East European cities
- Agents behind the French link and their contributions to urban renewal and/or urban modernism
- Connections between Paris-influenced urban modernization projects, tourism, and/or immigration
- Changing local uses of “being Parisian” as cultural capital or a benchmark of “being modern”
- Contested visions of Paris and its spaces within the same urban cultural context
- Roles of the Parisian model in the search for a local urban tradition or an authentic urban geography
- Challenges to the Paris dependency in expressions of modernism, nationalism, or urban planning
Papers should be submitted online via the EAUH2014 website <
The deadline for paper proposals is October 15, 2013. The papers themselves will be due in July 2014. For more information about the timetable, see the "Dates and Deadlines" section of the EAUH 2014 website.
Prospective presenters, who have any questions or would like to discuss possible topics before making an official proposal, are welcome to contact one or both of us at our e-mail addresses below.
Brian Bockelman, Ripon College (Wisconsin)
Alexander Vari, Marywood University (Pennsylvania)
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