mardi 22 septembre 2009

Call for Papers for Session on "Migrant Communities and Urban Space in the Mediterranean ports, 17th-19th centuries"

10th International Conference on Urban History, Ghent 1st-4th September 2010

Main Session: "Migrant Communities and Urban Space in the Mediterranean ports, 17th-19th centuries"

Recent research on migrant communities has witnessed a clear shift towards a more sophisticated understanding of the variety of bonds that link minority groups to the society they live in, as well as to their places of origins. Yet, when it comes to the understanding of past migrations, historical discourse still depends in many ways on traditional categories of analysis, that often poorly reflect the profound originality of the situations under study.
This session is an attempt to challenge traditional and “ready-to-go” views on the organization of community life among migrants who lived in the Mediterranean port-cities during the late modern period (17th to 19th centuries). To this effect, the session will address the key issue of “minority spaces”, namely of urban spaces that were socially, architecturally or culturally formed and shaped by the presence of migrants and foreigners. It will also consider the way such spaces were perceived by the local population, as well as the role played by urban space as a stake within broader patterns of social coexistence or exclusion.
Following the idea that routes of commerce were also the major routes of emigration, the session will focus primarily on Mediterranean port-cities, but will also consider cities located on other types of commercial crossroads. Conceived as minorities, foreigners’ groups may include the so-called Diaspora groups such as the Jews, the Greeks, and the Armenians, but also the other “nations”.
Favoring principally papers with a comparative approach, the session aims to approach the theme of “migrant spaces” from the point of view of both the community studies and the urban studies. Comparison can in turn be approached both on a theoretical level and through different case studies.

Session Organizers
Dr. Heleni Porfyriou (Senior Researcher, CNR-Italian National Research Council- ICVBC, Rome, Italy) ,
Dr. Athanasios Gekas (Assistant Professor, York University, Canada)
Mathieu Grenet (PhD Candidate, European University Institute, Florence, Italy)

Paper proposals have to be submitted on the conference website ( between 1 October and 1 December 2009. Session organizers have to decide which papers they accept, and they should inform the speakers and the organizing committee about their decision (deadline: 1 February 2010). In April 2010 the final program will be available on the website.