Call for Papers part 2: EAUH Helsinki 2016: Settler Cities: A Useful Concept to Reinterpret Transnational Urban History?

EAUH Helsinki 2016

European Association for Urban History 2016 Conference: 

Reinterpreting Cities

24-27 August 2016, Helsinki, Finland



Deadline: 31 October 2015


M19. Settler Cities: A Useful Concept to Reinterpret Transnational Urban History?

In the opening lines of his massive Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo World, 1783-1939, James Bellich presents a challenge to historians eager to reinterpret cities in a transnational framework: do cities like Chicago and Melbourne on opposite sides of the planet share characteristics by virtue of their foundation and political rule by white settlers intent on dwelling permanently upon lands forcibly taken from their indigenous inhabitants?
This panel will explore this question by calling upon scholars to reflect on the concept of “Settler Cities.” What defines such a city? Are their clear boundaries, or does the definition involve a subtle degrees of separation form the broader category of colonial city? Are there broad commonalities in the histories of these cities that merit singling them for scrutiny as a group? Are they best seen as a special subset of colonial cities or is there a way in which they expand or transcend that long-used concept? Are there webs of connections between these cities and between them and the imperial metropoles that make this concept especially useful as a subset of the new subfield of transnational urban history? What if we go beyond Bellich’s focus on the “Anglo World,” and consider Algiers, Elizabethvillle/Lubumbashi, Windhoek, Batavia, Jerusalem, and even Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro in the same universe as Cape Town, Chicago, Vancouver, San Francisco, Belfast, and Sydney? Are there non-western settler cities? Why did the settlers in some cities abandon their project of settlement while others stay, helping to cause some of the most intractable conflicts on earth?
Participants should not only bring their research on individual settler cities to the table, but also contemplate several themes underlying the concept of settler cities: especially dense connections and flows between these cities and between them and metropolitan hubs; the diversity of flows between these cities, including not only people, money, ideas, and urban practices, but also jurisprudential systems, organizational forms, urban economic structures, group identities, and political cultures; especially complex forms of urban politics that includes conflicts between settlers, between settlers and metropolitan governments as well as with indigenous people; real estate practices involving people who plan to invest in urban land for future generations unlike the more transient European populations of non-settler colonial cities; and interventions in urban spatial politics that include especially complex forms of segregation and law-of-conquest authoritarianism.

colonial cities, segregation, settler colonies, transnational urban history, urban politcs


Main session

Session organisers:
Carl Nightingale, University at Buffalo SUNY, United States of America
Vivian Bickford-Smith, University of Cape Town, South-Africa
Johan Lagae, University of Gent, Belgium

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