Call for Papers: The Social Life of Port Architecture: History, Politics, Commerce, and Culture (1700-present)

Proposals due by 29 April 2011 – International Workshop at the Centre for Port and Maritime History, University of Liverpool, 23-25 June 2011

The architecture of port cities is entangled in the social, political, economic and cultural histories of these places. Historically, major architectural projects afforded the commissioning merchant class the capacity to materialize their status in prominent urban spaces in a way which embedded trade and commerce in a set of broader civilizational values. Architecture was one of the key sites for referencing the cultures of other places with historicist styles, civilizational discourses, ‘exotic’ motifs and — crucially — representations of the local. Architecture also housed the social interactions crucial for knitting together trading networks within and beyond the city, while the configuration of internal building spaces revealed assumptions about the ordering of wider social relationships and hierarchies.

Architecture provides a lens through which to study the economic, political and cultural practices of port-cities. How did the social practices and values (whether religious or secular) crucial for assembling trading networks shape the architecture of port-cities? Which achievements were represented and celebrated in urban space and why? How did rapidly professionalizing architects draw on and particularize repertoires of historicist and international symbols in order to create distinctive local images? What were some of the controversies centring on major architectural projects and what do they tell us about wider social issues? How were new technologies incorporated into the urban landscape?

This is a three-day international workshop designed to bring together colleagues with a research interest in the ways in which architecture and the built environment has been implicated in the social formations of port-cities from the early eighteenth century to the present day. We are open to submissions from colleagues working on historic and contemporary port architecture, including studies of socially significant buildings (such as warehouses, town halls, local ‘iconomic’ sites), or those interested in the regeneration of waterfront spaces which continue to have a strategic importance.

Proposals are invited for individual papers which will contribute to the agenda of the international workshop which will be held between 23-25 June 2011 at the Centre for Port and Maritime History (University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University). Contributions from new researchers and doctoral students would be welcome. Applicants should submit a 400-word proposal and a brief cv (in World, RRTF or PDF) by Friday 29th April. Participants whose papers have been accepted will be informed by Tuesday 3rd May. Limited financial support may be available to help with the travel or accommodation costs of graduate students: all food and refreshments will be provided by the workshop organisers. Further information can be obtained from Robert Lee, School of History, University of Liveerpool, Liverpool L69 7WX; w.r.lee@liverpool.ac.uk

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