Call for Papers: Entering the City – Spaces, Transports, Perceptions, and Representations from the 18th Century to the Present

Deadline: 15 March 2015 - 12:00am

Dates: 15 - 16 October 2015


Where: Brussels, Belgium

Venue: Université libre de Bruxelles

Organised in Brussels on 15 and 16 October, the international conference ‘Entering the City: Spaces, Transports, Perceptions and Representations from the 18th Century to the Pressent is an iniative of the MICM-ARC Research Project ( based at the Université libre de Bruxelles.  The conference will provide a forum for exploring the ways and means of entry into the urban space and the resulting impressions and representations of that experience, one closely related to the themes of mobility, culture and metropolitan identity at the heart of the MICM-ARC- Research Project. Enclosed by fortified walls, ancient and medieval cities were delineated by clear boundaries. Access via land routes was clearly marked by city gates. Historians have extensively studied the controlling function of such thresholds as well as their symbolic dimensions.[1] The growth and industrialization of urban centers changed the way in which they were approached from the exterior. In the 19th century, new modes of transportation and suburban sprawl rendered old city gates obsolete and radically changed the ways in which cities were accessed. Today, roundabouts and off-ramps seem to have replaced those gates, and the infrastructure that lines the routes connecting one town to another makes it difficult if not impossible to perceive their boundaries.[2] Moreover, an increasing part (if not the majority) of entrances into urban space are no longer the result of a gradual progression along a traditional route, but often pass through the intermediate zones of train stations and airports that lead to urban zones without further transition. These changes affect travelers and the experience of travel. Beyond analyzing the entry-points to the city, it is also necessary to envisage the symbolic, subjective dimension of passing from one space to another, to study the perceptions and representations associated with entering the city.

The aim of the conference is to reflect upon the manners in which the city is entered, in terms of the evolution of peripheries, modes of transport, the urban planning of the spaces involved and the experience of entering the city itself.

The organizers envisage a resolutely interdisciplinary exchange involving the participation of historians, geographers, architects and urban planners, sociologists, and art historians. Papers will permit comparisons between different historical periods and different urban centers, with special attention being given to the case of Brussels. The period in question extends from the 18th century to the present day and embraces a range of models from the pre-industrial town to the post-industrial metropolis.The received propositions will be selected according to their pertinence, originality and capacity to encourage exchange through complementary reflection. Please send your title and proposed abstract, in English or French (a maximum of 2500 characters) before 15 March 2015 to micmarc[at] Final selection will be made at the end of March 2015 and the results will be communicated in early April. You may also direct questions regarding this call to micmarc[at]

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