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

What can researchers working in the fields of mobility and transport history and those working in migration and urban history learn each other? This round-table is an answer to recent calls in the fields of urban, migration, mobility and transport history to strengthen the connections, to develop a shared methodological framework and to tackle interactions between movement, space and infrastructure.

This round-table is an answer to recent calls in the fields of urban, migration, mobility and transport history to develop a shared methodological framework able to tackle interactions between movement, space and infrastructure, or indeed cities and motion. Both today as well as in the past, cities are characterised, and produced, by intense migration and complex mobility trajectories of people, in many directions and in many rhythms. To channel these mobility and migration streams complex infrastructural assemblages were developed and transformed throughout history. Transport historians generally focus on these infrastructures, and on policy more specifically, as the result of complex negotiations between different governance levels guided by different motives. Mobility and migration history, on the other, have movement of people as their object of study, while urban history takes space as primary entry into research. Even though migration and urban historians reveal connections between the ways in which transport infrastructure was put in place and the ways migration and mobility patterns developed, it has mostly been done implicitly. It is generally assumed that transport policy impacted on the mobility and migration patterns of people, as well as on the development of cities, not only because transport networks enhanced people to move, but also might have instigated them to stay put and for instance commute to work. Yet, these relations between transport, movement and space lack sustained scholarly attention. As a step towards a shared framework, the complex interactions between migration, mobility, transport and urban history stand at the core of this round table. How can the insights of these different historical disciplines be connected? Which methods and theoretical frameworks might be used to bridge the gaps? To what extent can this dialogue provide new insights into the relations between migration, mobility and transport history and the development of cities in the past? 

Potential speakers for this round table: Massimo Moraglio (transport history/mobilities); Simon Gunn (urban history/transport history); Tom Hulme (urban history); Colin Pooley (mobility/migration); Anne Winter (migration/urban history).

  • Spokesperson: Hilde Greefs, University of Antwerp
  • Co-organizer(s): Greet De Block, University of Antwerp
  • Keywords: Migration and mobility history | Transport history | Urban history
  • Time period: All periods
  • Topic(s): Other
  • Study area: More than one continent