Call for Papers: Urban peripheries? Science in “Second Cities” around 1900

Proposal for a session at the 9th STEP Meeting, Lisbon, 1-3 September 2014

Organizers: Agustí Nieto-Galan (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and
Oliver Hochadel (IMF-CSIC, Barcelona)

Science and the city, but also, science in the city, has become a hot
topic for historians of science. How did science, medicine and technology
shape the urban space? And inversely: how did the city condition the
practices of scientific research and the flow of communication? Despite
the valuable existing scholarship on the urban history of science we feel
that much remains to be explored. Most of the research focused on the
metropolis or what we may call the “first” cities (Paris, London, Berlin,

Yet in how far can their results be transferred to other “second” cities
such as Barcelona, Hamburg, Glasgow, Rotterdam, Copenhagen and so on?
These cities have been under the radar of much of recent scholarship but
surely deserve an in-depth-investigation. “Second” may refer to not being
to capital of a country, or to sheer size, to its political or economical
importance or its “peripheral” location. True, the concept of “second
cities” is quite vague. But for the time being we would like not to
endeavor a precise definition in order to amass case studies first. The
idea of this session is to pull together such case studies on “second
cities” in Europe but also from the Americas etc. A possible chronological
focus might be the decades around 1900 (ca. 1870-1930) where the modern
city took form.

Furthermore we should like to advance the discussion on a methodological
level. In short: how to write an urban history of science? The sheer
complexity of the topic, its abundant sources, innumerous actors and so on
pose quite a historiographical challenge. We would argue for example that
it makes no sense to neatly disjoin the spheres of art, architecture,
science, medicine, politics etc. These spheres need to be understood as a
seamless web with numerous intersections. Yet how would one best describe
such a seamless web?
The topic is very rich, hence numerous perspectives might be taken. To
mention but a few:

– Science in “second cities”?
– Urban and green? Science and the city and environmental history
– Pure modernity? Science and the city around 1900
– Science and the city as micro-history
– Liasions fécondes? Science and art in the modern city
– The architecture of modern science: universities, labs and museums in
the city
– Comparative approaches: port cities, cities of engineers, the park in
the city, technologies of entertainment in the modern city etc.
– Bright, clean and exclusive: New spaces of medical practice the city
around 1900
– Far from gone. Animals in the modern city
– Le quotidien. The interaction between science and urban everyday life

In case you are interested in contributing to this session on Urban peripheries? Science in “Second Cities” around 1900, please send an abstract of roughly 250 words by December, 31, 2013 to [email protected] AND to [email protected].