“ H I S T O R I A N S   I N   S P A C E ”

Concepts of Space in Recent European Historiography

7th Annual Graduate Conference in European History

April 25-27, 2013

Budapest, Central European University

Organized by the Central European University, Budapest in co-operation with the European University Institute, Florence and the University of Vienna.

Historicize space! This injunction has not always been on the agenda of historians. Traditionally, historians were tempted to take space for granted. The boundaries of the nineteenth century nation-state were regarded as the natural presupposition of much historical research. These established “mental maps” still continue to influence the structure of history writing today. However, historians were not entirely immune to the effects of the “spatial turn” and can probably no longer be accused to treat space as if it were “packed solidly on to the head of a pin,” as Edward W. Soja did in his Postmodern Geographies in 1989.

History is primarily about time, about what happened when. Concurrently, it should not be forgotten that events and processes took place somewhere. Historical phenomena have a setting, a location – their place. However, taking their cue from geography, anthropology and sociology, some historians have come to broaden established notions of space. The concept may not refer merely to “geographical” or “real space” which “contains” peoples, nations and cultures. Rather, it may as well point to socially and culturally constructed objects of inquiry and how these are perceived by individuals or groups. In other words, space is understood as being framed through social and cultural relations, as Henri Lefebvre showed already in his path-breaking The Production of Space (1974).

Thus, some historical phenomena are essentially marked by their spatial dimensions and can thus be better approached from the vantage point of spatiality alongside temporality. The 7th Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH) is inviting graduate students and young researchers to reflect on the rather ambiguous relationship historians entertain with the category of “space.”

We are welcoming abstracts which interrogate the various understandings of space, those which present new methodological approaches to the topic, and   case studies which are placed within a wider theoretical context. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Historians and Space: methodological and theoretical approaches
  2. Representations of space
  3. Going Global: linking local, regional, national, transnational history
  4. Symbolic geography and cultural spaces: for example ‘Europe’, ‘Central Europe’, ‘Southeast Europe’ or the ‘Balkans’, the ‘Levant’, the ‘Orient’, etc.
  5. The spatial constitution of politics: empires and nation states (territoriality, kinship)
  6. Economic history: world systems, ‘core’ and ‘periphery’, ‘backwardness’
  7. Spatial dimensions of everyday life: approaching gender, ethnicity, class, religion
  8. Urban spaces (morphology, planning; spaces of production, consumption and exchange, urban/rural divides)
  9. Geographies of knowledge: production and transfers
  10. Space and Memory
  11. Digital technologies and tools for writing spatial history, visualizations, Geographical Information Systems

The working language of the conference will be English. There is no participation fee and travel grants are available on a competitive basis. Please send an abstract of no more than 400 words and a brief CV to graceh[at] by January 20, 2013. Full papers will be pre-circulated and grouped into thematic panels of 3 to 4 contributions. We would like to ask all participants to prepare a presentation of no more than 15 minutes, in order to allow ample time for discussion and questions.

Final papers are due on March 31, 2013.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Zynep Celik is a specialist in architecture and urban history at the College of Architecture and Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Prof. Michael Harbsmeier is teaching and researching cultural encounters and the sociology of science at the Department of Culture and Identity at Roskilde University, Denmark.

Prof. József Laszlovszky teaches archeology, monastic culture and cultural heritage in the Medieval Studies Department at the Central European University, Budapest.

You can download the PDF version of the CfP from here.