(Urbanization): Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference: Cities in Motion 2020

This session seeks to improve our knowledge of cities in the past through historical analysis of the urban world in West Europe and America.  It proposes to study cities as systems, with capacity for action, to understand urban dynamics, how those dynamics played out in different areas, and the role of social agents in the process.  This line of investigation is based on our belief that urban behavior remains a matter of great interest, transcending the purely historical to place itself in the concerns of societies today.

The aim of the research requires us to undertake new challenges and to use new approaches to avoid artificial chronological breaks in an urban process that developed in a continuum from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginnings of the Modern world. That is, academic periodization does not correspond to the events studied, and this barrier will be overcome through the coordinated efforts of an interdisciplinary team of medievalists, modernists, Americanists, anthropologists, legal historians, geographers and archaeologists. The collaboration of experts will help us to avoid localism and provide new ways of comparative interpretation. Therefore, we intend to develop new historical methods to the study urbanization, hierarchization and urban networks between 1300 and 1600 as well as the societies of that period, their priorities and their policies, which marked the rhythms of urban action.

Regional frameworks of análisis will allow us to examine urban dynamics more broadly by including smaller villages and rural enclaves that made up a city’s hinterland. With this approach, it will be possible to assess the scope of urban potential and its dynamics of action. That is, no subject matter will be excluded from analysis. The regional approach will also allow us to assess how individual cities responded to different stimuli of change as well as the concurrence or collaborations between cities. Consequently, the session will use network analysis to examine adaptive and changing urban networks, according to themes and spatial amplitude. Such networks reached deeply into rural areas and stimulated urbanization processes.

  • Spokesperson: Maria Asenjo-Gonzalez, Complutense University of Madrid
  • Co-organizer(s): Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan, Sorbonne University | Andrea Zorzi, Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • Keywords: Cities | Early Modern | America
  • Time period: Medieval period
  • Topic(s): Social | Political
  • Study area: More than one continent