Small Towns in Europe and Beyond: 20th and 21st centuries

We have articulated  for 12th conference of EAUH following proposal:


In our research we have focused on analysis of identities of urban communities, and discovered that the perspective of small towns can contribute considerably to the debate. Yet the small towns are one of the neglected themes in urban history of modern and contemporary period. The project on small towns carried by Bernard Lepetit and Peter Clark more than 20 years ago was focused on early modern towns and had no continuation which would systematically research small towns in 19th century and later. This is surprising since in Europe the small towns remain to be quite visible type of urban settlement even in the 21st century, regardless of previous urban growth, regional urbanisation, and dominant position of metropolises, metropolitan agglomerations, and large cities in general. Our perspective is of course European. We claim that the number of small towns is still quite large, and that the experience of life and sociability in a small community is important. We propose to revisit the notion of small town in the context of the changes of the second half of the 20th century. We wish to add non-European perspective and we would like to approach the issue from interdisciplinary perspective.

We are looking for contributions which would discuss the following questions:
– What is understood as a small town in academic and public discourse and in various areas? Are they defined primarily by size of population, by their social functions, or by other criteria, such as morphology or distinct kind of culture?
– Are the small towns only shrinking, losing population, and even dying since the 19th century, or have they shown capacity for sustainability and growth as well?
– Is their economic, cultural and social function disappearing? Do they keep administrative functions?
– How has globalisation influenced the fortunes of small towns?
– What strategies are adopted by the local and regional officials for their small towns in order to keep towns alive, to cope with the small town condition, and to overcome stigma of smalltownness?
– What frames of identification are used in (self)presentation of small towns? Do they relate to local, regional, national, or supranational contexts?
– Is history important for small towns? How is history and memory used for representation and socialisation of their society? How do small towns encounter the process of musealisation?
– How do small towns perceive and represent their position with regard to the border between urban and rural? With which side do they identify? Do they play with their “urban” nature and “urban” past?


Keywords: Small Town; Heritage; Memory; Rural Town

Period: 20th Century
Type: Main Session

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