Cfp: Violence in Urban Spaces since the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
Cfp: Violence in Urban Spaces since the Second Half of the Twentieth Century: Comparative, Transnational and Entangled Perspectives Main session at the 11th International Conference on Urban History, Prague, 29 August until 1 September 2012
Violence has become one of the major threats to urban societies. Although it is true that cities have a long history of breeding violence, the international upheavals of the late 1960s have intensified the threats associated with urban violence. The wave of urban protests which evolved since the 1980s but also the manifold urban unrests in the cities of Africa and in the Americas of the early 21st century added emphasis to these threats. This collective violence mostly originated from two sources: from urban social movements (M. Castells, City and the Grassroots, 1983) and from urban youth groups/gangs.
The reasons for this intensification of the perception and/or of the practise of urban violence are not well researched. The related scholarly debates (in Western Europe) mainly focus on three processes: the final breakthrough of mass consumer society (Z. Bauman, Consuming Life, 2007), the changing culture of control (D. Garland, Culture of Control, 2001) and the transition from industrial to urban society (H. Lefèbvre, La revolution urbaine, 1972 ).
Against this background, the main session aims at bringing together studies which not mainly focus on single protest events but try to put them into broader, especially comparative, transnational or entangled perspectives. Contributions can be made not only by historians but also by scholars active in Sociology, Ethnography, Criminology, Architecture, and Geography.
Following the latest innovative studies in the field of violence research, we would highly welcome contributions which see violence as a pattern of communication, which could include physical as well as symbolic violence. Contributors should also be aware that urban space is not only shaped by buildings, roads, and other tactile objects but also by actions, perceptions and imaginations of various actors such as representatives of public authorities (among them the police), media, experts, inhabitants (divided by gender, ethnicity and social strata). Urban space was (and is) therefore never a given fact but always a contested notion, open for actions, imaginations, and changes.
In order to give the main session a better coherence, we are especially interested in papers which in comparative / transnational /entangled perspective focus on at least one of the following five key dimensions of collective violence:
  • Urban: Which influences did urban restructuring and imaginations of urban space have on collective violence? What were the typical urban elements of these acts of collective violence?
  • Aims: What were the aims and motives of these acts of collective violence: Did they aim more at identity formation (be it based on ethnic or gender aspects) or more at fostering social or political change?
  • State: Which role was played by which state institutions in the handling of these acts of collective violence and which tactics were employed by state institutions (especially the police) in fighting these acts of collective violence?
  • Transfers: Which transnational influences / flows of ideas were discernible, relating to the patterns of collective violence, its media coverage and in fighting collective urban violence?
    Media: Which role was played by the media in the communicative processes initiated by acts of collective violence?
Please submit paper proposals (max 500 Words, English or French) and a one page CV not later than 1 October 2011 to both organizers:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Weinhauer, Bielefeld University, Faculty of History, Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany,
Dr. Chris Quispel, Leiden University, Institute for History, Johan Huizingagebouw, Doelensteeg 16, NL-2311 VL Leiden,The Netherlands,
Prof. Dr. Klaus Weinhauer
Bielefeld University
Faculty of History
Postbox 100131
D-33501 Bielefeld

Date: 2011-08-02