One of the ways belonging is conceptualised within sociological literature is that it is a socially constructed category which revolves around an individual’s inclusion and exclusion from formal and informal groups. It is thought that individuals can concurrently be included within one group yet excluded from others, and that belonging is negotiated by various actors such as local communities, governments and individuals themselves.

Late medieval and early modern cities were environments with many formal and informal groups to which people could belong, such as street communities, parishes, guilds and the citizenry, to name a few. The conference aims to explore how notions of belonging might be utilised within the study of late medieval urban centres. We invite speakers to consider whether belonging as a idea can be used to contribute to established ideas of identity, especially considering the (hierarchical) structures of urban society and examining how community boundaries were drawn and redrawn, how spaces were imagined as well as the significance of membership and exclusion. These were always in a state of flux, owing to the influence of the variety of agents who structured belonging, including rulers, local communities and individuals, with inclusion and exclusion operating along the axes of gender and social status. Papers will explore these intersections between the individual and their communities, and how inclusion and exclusion manifested themselves in historical urban areas. 

Free suggestions for further reading:

  • Floya Anthias, ‘Identity and Belonging: conceptualisations and political framings’, KLA Working Paper Series, no.8 (2013) <>
  • Floya Anthias, ‘Where do I belong? Narrating collective identity and translocational positionality’, Ethnicities, 2 (2002).
  • Tuuli Lahdesmaki, Tuija Saresma, Kaisa Hiltunen et al, ‘Fluidity and flexibility of ‘belonging’: Uses of the concept in contemporary research’, Acta Sociologica, 59 (2016).

Please send an abstract of 300 words to Joshua Ravenhill [email protected] or Luke Giraudet [email protected] by the 8th October 2018.