(Migration): Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference: Cities in Motion 2020
This session seeks to cultivate an interdisciplinary discussion focused on how foreigners – whether immigrants or visitors passing through – represented or otherwise contributed to producing images of cities that were not their own, and what such images reveal about urban identities and experiences when considered alongside those produced or used by so-called “natives” of a particular place. Session content: The past few decades have seen a wealth of publications on maps, city views, and other imagery related to the appearance of early modern cities. Historians of art, architecture and urban history have all addressed the significance of such imagery. Yet these studies have yet to fully account for the role of foreigners as producers and consumers of these images. With the global turn and increasing focus on such subjects as immigration, identity, and mobility, there is a renewed need to return to such urban imagery with new questions.
Radical demographic, economic, and structural changes transformed cities across Europe in the early modern period. Depictions of these cities – including Antwerp, Amsterdam, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Rome, and Venice – became increasingly common and topical. Produced in a range of media and intended to perform an array of functions, these images both represented elements of cities and actively helped shape urban identities. While often making claims to objective accuracy, these images were necessarily conditioned by the circumstances of and individuals involved in their production. Who commissioned these images and to what ends? Who designed and executed them, and on the basis of what tools, experiences and knowledge? Who marketed them, how broadly and to whom? What was the relationship of these individuals to the city in question? In particular, were any of them immigrants? Travelers? Pilgrims? If so, how did their own status as outsiders in relation to the city shape their visual choices in imaging it?
For example, did foreigners bring a perceptible critical distance to their representations of urban spaces? Do they engage in ways different from their local colleagues in the perpetuation or challenging of the urban image a city’s leaders might seek to project? How do political circumstances of certain commissions relate to questions of immigration and foreignness?
This session, co-sponsored by the Rubenianum, aims to bring art and architectural historians in dialogue with urban and cultural historians to assess the role foreigners played in constructing and consuming the visual identities of early modern European cities. It welcomes papers engaged with these questions from scholars in any relevant discipline.
- Spokesperson: Abigail Newman, Universiteit Antwerpen - Rubenianum
- Co-organizer(s): -
- Keywords: Urban identity | Immigration | Urban imagery
- Time period: Early modern period
- Topic(s): Architecture and urbanism | Art
- Study area: Europe