AccueilThe Noses and Eyes of the City

The Noses and Eyes of the City

Reinterpreting Early Modern Politics and Administrative Practices of Hygiene

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Publié le mardi 11 août 2015 par João Fernandes

Résumé

The Specialist Session welcomes contributions that deal with questions of medical and administrative debates and with techniques of controlling and monitoring of the urban space by city authorities and the urban population. The aim is to create a basis for understanding contemporary hygienic assumptions concerning life in urban spaces. The papers may be focused on questions of practice, concerning the contemporary considerations to improve city space, political agenda, procedures to implement them and the “instruments” – that is most importantly: the use of senses – to control the implementation. The Contributions of this session will therefore challenge the “modern”, deprecated view on early modern hygienic questions and replace it with a view that is based on contemporary theories and contemporary instruments: the noses and eyes of the city.

Annonce

Specialist Session - European Association for Urban History (EAUH) 
Reinterpreting Cities, 13th International Conference on Urban History

Argument

 

Common images of early modern cities are hard to refute: Who, for example, ever read the widely reviewed and picturised novel “Das Parfum” (The Perfume) by Patrick Süßkind finds himself confirmed in the opinion that almost every European town before 1850 – and especially the metropolises – were dirty and stinking places. Historians have advanced contradictory interpretations with regard to the behavior of contemporary councilors, servants and inhabitants: One the one hand researchers explain, coevals were so much used to the conditions that they took things for given. On the other hand it is often assumed that contemporary eyes and noses were not generally blind and stub for urban conditions, but were trained to ignore most of these sensations.

Nevertheless, contemporary reports do not testify of such general 'sensual inabilities' or 'sensual blurs': Here, coevals inform us about garbage, faeces and even carcasses on streets and at river banks, about deeply muddy paths after rains and the mixing of fresh and waste water. Contemporary reports also speak of cattle and other animals in city centres and they speak of overcrowded private houses, hospitals and jails. They give testimony of stinking canals, dead fish and complaints about industries that turn water colored and unsuited for daily routines such as the washing of laundry. Such documents proof that effects of urbanization were judged by appearance and inspection, and that they were seen as social, economic and hygienic issues.

What is revealed here is a classic interpretation problem of historical sciences: Modern 'standards' of urban life are applied to contemporary reports – they are read and interpreted with modern eyes – and noses. But contemporary inhabitants and councilors had their own, time period-bound perceptions of cleanliness and hygiene and, especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, established procedures to implement politics responding to those perceptions. Before bacteriology was established the general acceptance was that so-called “bad air”, air streams and vapors were responsible for diseases. Therefore, hospitals and cemeteries were relocated to the peripheries, streets paved, and civil servants – and often even inhabitants – were instructed to seek – that meant: look and smell – for so-called “bad airs” from fountains, rivers and suspected workshops. Therefore the important and relevant question is not, how coevals could stand pre-modern – and in modern reading: unacceptable – urban conditions. Instead, we should ask how contemporary standards were developed and became leading for urban politics, which procedures and techniques were used to achieve those standards in European cities, and how and because of which scientific and political debates standards could be changed until 1850.

The session welcomes contributions that deal with questions of medical and administrative debates and with techniques of controlling and monitoring of the urban space by city authorities and the urban population. The aim is to create a basis for understanding contemporary hygienic assumptions concerning life in urban spaces. The papers may be focused on questions of practice, concerning the contemporary considerations to improve city space, political agenda, procedures to implement them and the 'instruments' – that is most importantly: the use of senses – to control the implementation. The Contributions of this session will therefore challenge the 'modern', deprecated view on early modern hygienic questions and replace it with a view that is based on contemporary theories and contemporary instruments: the noses and eyes of the city.

Paper Proposal

To submit a paper proposal, please create a user account on the Conference abstract system:  https://eauh2016.net/.

Abstracts of paper proposals should not exceed 300 words.

  • Start of paper proposals submission: June 15, 2015
  • Deadline for paper proposals submission: October 31, 2015

  • Notification of paper acceptance: December 15, 2015

Important: Paper proposals and full texts can only by submitted online, via the EAUH2016 website https://eauh2016.net/. Proposals and texts sent by post or email will not be considered.

Paper Submission

The session organisers will decide on the contents of their session and will make the final selection of papers. The authors of the accepted paper proposals will be invited to submit the full text (max. 5000 words) to the abstract and paper system. The papers will be made available to all participants of the conference in a restricted web area.

Deadline for full text submissions: August 15, 2016.

Session Organizers

  • Dr. Birgit Näther, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Hanna Sonkajärvi, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil.

Lieux

  • University of Helsinki Main Building, Senate Square
    Helsinki, Finlande

Dates

  • samedi 31 octobre 2015

Fichiers attachés

Mots-clés

  • practices of hygiene, senses, politics, administration, inspection

Contacts

  • Hanna Sonkajärvi
    courriel : hanna [dot] sonkajarvi [at] eui [dot] eu
  • Birgit Näther
    courriel : birgit [dot] naether [at] lmu [dot] de

URLS de référence

Source de l'information

  • Hanna Sonkajärvi
    courriel : hanna [dot] sonkajarvi [at] eui [dot] eu

Pour citer cette annonce

« The Noses and Eyes of the City », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le mardi 11 août 2015, http://calenda.org/336799