Rethinking the Political Uses of the Streets: Europe-America 19th–21st Centuries – Call for Papers

Deadline to submit abstracts: October 31, 2015
Session M37: Rethinking the Political Uses of the Streets: Europe-America 19th–21st Centuries
The way streets have been politically used have led to various studies : European historiography on the 19th century in particular stressed the complex relations between the development of new urban forms and the emergence of new political practices. Historians have looked into demonstrations, barricades, processions, meetings, when studying the English Chartists demonstrations, the Parisian barricades, the Catholic processions, the Italian fascist marches. They often focused on the national level.
The ambition of this session is to use connected histories and to question how those classical practices have been reinterpreted across time and space by paying attention to how those forms of collective action circulated between continents in the long term. The analysis of models and also of human vectors and circuits which contributed to the spread of some specific uses of the streets is at the centre of this project.
It will also be interesting to study the international connections which place some forms and moments of local protest in the larger framework of transnational events and networks (the revolutions of 1848, the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, etc.). Are some places of memory (such as the Parisian revolutions in the 19th century, the May 1968 events) replayed at other times and in different places while serving as a mythical reference, the origin of rules, symbols and representations which can be called upon or exploited by collective actors to give legitimacy to their action, undermine the legitimacy of their opponents, or simply to produce images that can be understood by all?
By comparing the European and American experiences in long-term history, the aim is to analyze how these diverse political uses of the streets have been reinvented at a national level in order to give shape and legitimacy to a system of demonstrations that would belong specifically to each country in the twentieth century. Which legitimacy is given to the political uses of the streets so that they conform to the field of local politics? What are the evolving boundaries given to this political field and what is the role given to the streets? What do its varied uses and rearranging reveal about the nature of politics in these countries?
The conference papers can look at the role of national legislations and their possible circulations, the management of the maintenance of law and order, the importance of urban reforms and of the place given to the city as a political space and the normative discourses of the political elites on the need for “good” political uses of the streets.
Session organisers:
Marianne González Alemán, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Frédéric Moret, Université Paris-Est Marne la Vallée, France (

European Association for Urban History
13th International Conference on Urban History
August 24-27, 2016
Helsinki, Finland


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