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Workshop – Space: A useless category for historical analysis?

Workshop by Leif Jerram (University of Manchester)

Date: 22 May 2015
Time: 10.30-13.00
Intended for: PhD candidates and RMa students
Maximum number of participants: 15
Venue: Bungehuis 1.01
Coordination: Enno Maessen (UvA), Tymen Peverelli (UvA)
Credits: 1 EC
Fee: free (incl lunch)
Note: This event is fully booked, please send us an e-mail with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

Over the past few decades there has been much talk of a “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences. Especially in the wake of the pioneering work of scholars such as Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, David Harvey and Edward Soja in the 1970s and ‘80s, historians, sociologists and geographers alike have contributed to an enormous rise in academic research on questions of space, location and place. Although much historical work in this area has been done, to this day the field remains strikingly fragmented and under-theorized, leaving the scholar with divergent notions of what these spatial concepts actually mean and implicate for their research.

This workshop, jointly facilitated by the Huizinga Institute for Cultural History, the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History (ACUH), and the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES) of the University of Amsterdam, aims to tackle this problem by offering interested PhD candidates and RMa students of all disciplines the possibility of addressing these questions in an informal intellectual exchange. Central to the workshop is the question of how spatial concepts could be applied usefully as categories of analysis to (urban) historical research.

Leif Jerram, senior lector in Modern History at the University of Manchester, has published extensively on the history of modern European cities, with a strong emphasis on Germany. His research has mainly focused on the urban built environment and its influence on the lives of ordinary people. A recurring question in his work is how space has shaped human behaviours, and experiences, from the cinema to the urinal, the council house to the department store, and the factory to the bedroom. Important publications are, among others, Streetlife: The Untold History of Europe’s Twentieth Century (Oxford UP, 2011) and Germany’s Other Modernity: Munich and the Making of Metropolis, 1895-1930 (Manchester UP, 2007).


Participants are asked to

  • read three seminal articles
  • formulate a critical question concerning each of the required readings
  • prepare a short essay (ca. 500 words) on the relationship between their own research and the discussion topic
  • send the essay at least three weeks before the workshop to T.Peverelli [at] uva [dot] nl (deadline: 1 May 2015)
  • read the other participants’ essays

required readings

  • Pierre Bourdieu, ‘The Kabyle house or the world reversed’, in: Pierre Bourdieu, Algeria 1960, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979) 133-153.
  • Leif Jerram, ‘Space: A useless category for historical analysis?’, History and Theory 52 (2013) 400-419.
  • Chris Otter, ‘Making liberalism durable. Vision and civility in the late Victorian city’, Social History 27 (2002) 1-15.


The workshop is organized as an interactive daytime meeting, including an introduction by Leif Jerram, followed by several sessions, in which the articles and the participants papers will be presented (ca. 5 minutes per presentation) and discussed.

After the workshop, Leif Jerram will give a lecture to which all participants, and others, are cordially invited.
The lecture will take place at 17.00h, see for more information.

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