Conference: From Space to Place


From Space to Place: The Spatial Dimension in History of Western Europe

16 and 17 April 2010.
German Historical Institute, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ.
A two-day international and interdisciplinary conference, organised by the Centre for Research in History and Theory, Roehampton University.
This conference will explore the so-called ‘spatial turn in history’ discussed among historians for the last decade or so and inspired by earlier anthropological ideas and the interdisciplinary approach by sociologists, especially geographers. It challenges the idea of place or space in history as an unreflected essentialist category linked to tradition and immutability. Instead, space as place is shown to be socially and culturally constructed, mediated and contested. Organised into three separate but interlinking topics (social space, workplace and intimate space) papers will investigate how specific spaces in the past not only evoked but conveyed political, social, cultural and symbolic meaning and conversely how particular spaces/places influenced this meaning.
The conference is interdisciplinary; historians and geographers with an interest in politics, society, culture and gender as well as anthropologists, archaeologists, and literary scholars will explore the meaning of space in the past by situating it in its precise historical context. There will be broader reflections on historiography and theory as well as case studies from a wide chronological span (from the medieval, early modern to the modern period) but geographically restricted to Western Europe.


10.00am Registration
10.30am Welcome by Andreas Gestrich, Director, German Historical Institute, and Cornelie Usborne, Roehampton University
10.45am – 1pm General reflections
1. Beat Kümin (History, Warwick), ‘The “spatial turn” from a historical perspective’
2. Linda McDowell (Human Geography, St John’s College, Oxford), ‘Space and place in geographical theory: from spatial differentiation to social relations’
3. Eliza Darling, (Anthropology, Goldsmith College, London), ‘The spatial turn that wasn't: class, anthropology, and the triumph of place over space’
1 – 2pm Lunch at the GHI
2 – 5pm Social Space
1. Matthew Johnson (Archaeology, Southampton), ‘Late Medieval Spaces, Early Modern Practices’
2. Gerd Schwerhoff (History, Technical University Dresden), ‘Public places in early modern towns’.
3. – 3.30 Tea break
3. Leif Jerram (Urban History, Manchester), ‘Space: A Useless Category of Historical Analysis?’ (with case studies from turn of the 20th-century Munich)

Conference Dinner


10 – 10.30am coffee
10.30 – 12.45pm Workplace
1. Jeremy Goldberg (History, York), ‘“I have mor to doo then I doo may”: Problematising Labour, Space and Gender in later medieval England’
2. Amanda Flather (History, Essex), ‘Space, place and gender: the sexual and spatial division of labour in the early modern household’
3. Steven King (History, Oxford Brookes), ‘Work places and places of work: Labour market architecture and issues of space in Europe 1750-1870’

12.45-1.45pm Lunch at the GHI
1.45- 4pm Intimate Places
1. Felicity Riddy (English, York), ‘Space, intimacy and values in the late medieval English “bourgeois” home’
2. Sandra Cavallo (History, Royal Holloway), ‘Spaces for body-care and body services in the early modern Italian home’
3. Willem de Blcourt (Historical Anthropology, Huizinga Institute, Amsterdam), ‘Over the Threshold: liminality, proximity & intimacy in twentieth-century witchcraft discourse’
4-4.30pm Tea
4.30 – 5.30pm Roundtable