Urban Variation

Urban Variation. Utopia, planning and practice.
19-22 February 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden
Organized by the Project The Early Modern Town. Archaeology between the local and the global, financed by the Swedish Science Council, and placed at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg. For more information contact: emt@history.gu.se

When Moore, Campanella and other early modern thinkers wrote utopian texts, they often chose the city as the setting for this ideal world. At the same time, they were often almost like states, thus making of the urban something of a portrait of the ideal society. The urban was in context, in most parts of Europe, the exception speaking in demographic terms. The utopian models of the Early Modern are, however, still, highly important in the debate on the urban, and in the way we address urban issues. It is, thus, highly important to look closer at the Early Modern, but also to contrast it to other urban experiences. Still, there were also real cities in the Early Modern. There was ambitious planning, which, at times, at least in part, were made into real cities. The extent to which planning became reality, and what the plans covered in terms of practical reality are important questions. We know that there were problems, and we should look closer at them, and also look at other actors, beyond the planners, and their ways of addressing the urban. It is also important to consider global dimensions of the urban, and the varied European projects in different parts of the world. In particular, it is interesting to look at the way these projects interacted with, or failed to interact with, earlier urban experiences. The Latin American case is of course of great interest in this connection.

When we start looking closer, we see a wide variety of dense, large settlements in the Early Modern. It is important to illustrate this variability and to discuss its social and economic implications; to address, in a broad sense, urban variation.

Archaeology as a discipline has been working on the Early Modern context at least during the last hundred years. But in Europe, for example in Sweden, there has been, over the last decades, an increase in excavations of the Early Modern context, and digital recording produces increasingly richer documentation. Thus, there is, today a new possibility for archaeology to enter the debate on the Early Modern.

This conference will try to create new dialogues between disciplines and other special fields of knowledge, including archaeology, history, art history, literature, architects, specialists on digital modeling and many others. We hope to open up for new kinds of discussion and debates.