EVENT Nov 04
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The Spatial 18th Century: Rethinking Urban Networks and Maps, 1650–1850

Online (via Zoom)
Organization: Tate Britain and the University of York
Categories: Digital Humanities, Graduate Conference, Popular Culture, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, Anthropology/Sociology, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2021-11-04 Abstract Due: 2021-08-01

An online interdisciplinary symposium focusing on spatial representation in, and of, 18th-century cities

4 November 2021 GMT

Keynote speaker: Sadakne Baroudi, Independent Historian

Throughout the so-called ‘spatial turn’ (or turns) of recent decades, numerous scholars have brought spatial models such as networks and maps to bear on their studies of the past. Urban environments in the ‘long’ 18th Century (1650–1850), a time of rapid residential and industrial expansion, have proven especially rich contexts for such enquiry. This online interdisciplinary symposium stems from research being undertaken at Tate Britain and the University of York, focusing on intersections between the history of art and the history and theory of mapping and networks. 

Hitherto scholarship on this period, including that of the organisers, is markedly male- and white-dominated and often London-centric. The 18th Century was a time of great social inequality and massive colonial expansion, and many of these structures of subjugation have been reinscribed in spatial representations of the metropolis. In using spatial models in scholarship today, we cannot ignore this genealogy. 

From a decolonial perspective, we wish to deconstruct the inscription of power differentials of race, gender, and other forms of marginalisation in spatial representations of cities. Accordingly, we want to challenge structures of inequality within academic and cultural sectors. We welcome proposals from all countries and disciplines, speakers from all backgrounds, demographics and cultures. 

In the current climate of Covid-19, we rely on modern technology to maintain networks in our daily lives. This symposium is an opportunity for speakers to show how their research applies network analysis, relationships, mapping, and cartography to the pre-digital age. It is also an exciting opportunity to network with other scholars internationally. 

We invite proposals for 15-minute papers from scholars working across disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Digital humanities: digital mapping, GIS, network analysis
  • Professional and artistic networks and relationships in urban environments across the globe
  • Intersections between international/global and urban/local networks
  • Mapping gendered space, sexuality, race in the city
  • Politics of mapping (empire, colonialism, power, hierarchy)
  • Literary and artistic mappings of urban spaces
  • Inclusivity/exclusivity and problems of (in)visibility in spatial visualisations
  • Conceptions of the ‘urban’ as a cultural and geographical phenomenon

Speakers will be compensated with a fee of £50 for their time. More information can be found on the website https://sites.google.com/york.ac.uk/the-spatial-18th-century. We welcome proposals for papers from postgraduates and ECRs as well as established academics. Proposals should contain an abstract (300 words), a brief bio (100 words), and an optional image with credit line. Please email proposals to spatial18thcentury@gmail.com by 1 August 2021. Enquiries can also be directed to this email address. Follow us on twitter @Spatial18thC


In affiliation with Tate Britain and the University of York. 

With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships Student Led Activity Fund.



Caroline Anjali Ritchie and Rhian Addison