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The Making of European Contemporary Cities: an Environmental History


Third International Round-Table on Urban Environmental History of the 19th and 20th Century

University of Siena, June 24-27, 2004

Call for papers

The conferences on urban environmental history hosted by the University of Clermont-Ferrand in May 2000, and by the University of Leicester in June 2002, were valuable  opportunities to set out the ‘state of art’ in this field, to exchange information and to share and establish common research agendas.

We would now like to continue our experience of workshops leaving much space for discussion where established scholars and younger researchers predominantly from across Europe present and debate the more advanced results of investigation in the field. Therefore, we warmly invite you to participate in the “Third International Round-Table on Urban Environmental History of the 19th and 20th Centuries”, dedicated to The Making of European Contemporary Cities: an Environmental History.

The conference will be held from Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th June 2004 and will be hosted and promoted by the “Centro per la storia del cambiamento sociale” (Ciscam) of the University of Siena (Italy), in collaboration with the “Istituto di Studi sulle Società del Mediterraneo” (Naples) of the Italian National Council of Research.

The general theme

The conference’s overarching theme will be to develop an environmental perspective on the making of the European city over the last two centuries. The aim is to focus, through a historical approach, on the city conceived as an environmental system and on the environmental implications of the technical and social ways of ‘creating’ the urban system. The conference will investigate different local histories and will compare them on the European level.

The general theme of the conference will be explored through the discussion of three main sub-topics, conceived as differing ways of “the making” of the European city, and we invite you to submit proposals for papers along these lines.

I. Incorporating: social competition about resources.

We welcome papers dealing with the uses of natural resources in the making of the urban environment (soil, water, air, green spaces, etc.); the short- and long-term consequences of these uses (pollution, scarcity, exhaustion), the changing ways in which  the resources were exploited, etc., in order to analyse interactions between technical solutions and social needs. Since we understand incorporation of natural resources as the ‘integration’ of a portion of nature into a social or human coherent process and the subordination of nature to that social process, we propose social competition for resources and the role of different social groups as the unifying perspective and the common approach in the analysis of the different ways (in time and space) resources were incorporated into the urban environment.

II. Networking: technology and infrastructures for mobility, provision and removal.

We encourage papers with a special focus on the environmental implications both of technological innovations and of the infrastructures created to connect cities with their hinterland (on multiple scales) and to support circulation of people, goods, energy, water, waste, etc. This perspective should stress the exchanges between cities and their hinterland, also considered as flows of  a ‘metabolic cycle’ between the city and the outside environment.  We would also appreciate papers that discuss the city as the core and the main organizer of a larger and stratified territorial and environmental system, and papers evaluating the environmental impact of “urban networks” developed during the 20th century.

III. Policing: public regulation of the environmental impact of  urban development.

We encourage papers dedicated to the analysis of central and/or local regulation of urban development with relevant environmental implications: for example, control of waste, noise, pollution; urban planning; development of new areas; building of infrastructures; etc. These papers should show a particular interest in the role of public authorities as primary actors in the governance of the urban environment, but should also be well aware of the interactions with private and collective initiatives against pollution and polluters. Regulations can be considered also as the result of the specific functions of various public authorities and in respect to their role as mediators in conflicts over environmental resources between different social groups.

Submission of proposals

In order to stimulate an in-depth debate among participants of the conference, the number of paper-givers will be strictly limited. Presentations will last no more than 15-20 minutes.

The Scientific Committee will accept only proposals clearly addressing issues outlined in one of the three main topics above. Moreover, proposals should pay attention to the timing or period of the issue considered; the role of social groups; the administrative and legal contexts. The Scientific Committee might give priority to high-quality proposals with an intra-European comparative approach and/or to joint papers (papers presented jointly by two researchers and comparing at least two different countries, contexts or case studies) or to connected proposals (two papers with a clearly highlighted common thread).

You are invited to declare your interest in participating by sending the pre-registration form by May 31st, 2003 and to submit proposals by June 30th, 2003.

– You will find the pre-registration form at the URL: Please complete and email it back to the Local Organizer.

– Proposals for papers should be 400-500 words, include a title and the author’s name, address and affiliation, and give details on: a) the relevance of the subject; b) main topics; c) geographical areas considered; d) time span considered; e) sources analysed; f) main conclusions. In addition,  proposers are expected to submit a short curriculum vitae (c.v.) containing specific information about research experience and publications in the field of environmental history.

Please, email your proposal and c.v. as a single attached file to the Local Organizer.


31 May 2003                    deadline for pre-registration

30 June 2003                    deadline for submission of proposals

10 October  2003             participants are informed on their proposals

by 15 December 2003     participants confirm registration and pay part of their accommodation fees

January 2003                    provisional program is issued

by 31 March 2004            papers must reach the Local Organizer

by 30 April 2004              participants should pay the remaining fees

15 May  2004                   a reader, containing the papers and the final program are sent to


24-27 June 2004              conference


The official languages for proposals, papers and presentations are English and French. Communications from the Organising Committee will be  in English, but French can be used for communicating with the committee. No interpreting service is provided at the Conference.

Timetable, venue and accommodation

The conference will take place from Thursday 24th June to Sunday 27th June, 2004. The opening session will be on Thursday afternoon and the closing session on Saturday afternoon. Social programs (including a tour of Siena) will be in the late afternoons and on Sunday an excursion will be optionally offered.

The conference will be held at the “Certosa di Pontignano”, an ancient and extremely beautiful monastery located in the countryside some 10 km from Siena. Siena is a small city in the heart of Tuscany (Italy) and is world-wide famous for its landscape, its art, and its medieval and renaissance  atmosphere. The Certosa di Pontignano has been owned by the University of Siena for many years and is now used as a conference centre: participants will have the possibility to be hosted at the same fascinating location as the conference itself. More information on Siena is available at the website:; on the University of Siena at the website:; on the “Centro per la storia del cambiamento sociale” at the website:; on the Certosa di Pontignano at the website:

The conference fee is Euro 230 and includes accommodation in single-rooms (three nights and full board from Thursday evening to Sunday morning), conference papers and social program. Since there are a limited number of single-rooms, they will be assigned on a first come first served basis. The fee is reduced to Euro 190 for participants who choose accommodation in double-rooms (more details in the next circular). Participants will pay for their own travel expenses. We hope that our fundraising will allow us to reduce fees for young researchers and/or for participants travelling from more distant locations.

Please, feel free to contact the Local Organizer or members of the Scientific Committee for further explanations or information.

Scientific Committee:

Christoph Bernhardt

Institut für Regionalentwicklung und Struckturplan, Erkner/Berlin, Germany;

Gabriella Corona

Issm – Cnr, Naples, Italy; gabriella.corona@issm.cnr. it

Geneviève Massard-Guilbaud

Université Blaise-Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France;

Simone Neri Serneri

University of Siena, Siena, Italy;

Dieter Schott

University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom;

Local Organiser:

Simone Neri Serneri

Dipartimento di Scienze storiche, giuridiche, politiche e sociali – University of Siena

mail address: via P.A. Mattioli, 10 – I-53100 Siena (Italy)

email:; tel. ++39-0577-235294/306, fax: ++39-0577-235292

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