IXth International Conference on Urban History

August 27-30, 2008

Lyon France
Home | Calls | Sessions | Schedule | Registration | Details | Social programme | Organisers | Bursaries | Contact

> Browse sessions

<- Back to session list

 Session description

Small European towns and their urban history in the twentieth century

Notwithstanding the worldwide tendency in the growth of large cities, in many countries the greatest part of the population still lives in small and middle-sized towns. Yet, the attention of urban historians concentrates on large cities, especially capitals. The history of smaller towns is seen as local history, as "petit histoire", but is it a history of merely local importance?
The central question for the session is what the study of small towns can contribute to urban history. Specific issues may be: the difference between urban life in these towns and in large cities, and how local elites define the urban life of small towns. These issues correspond with the problems of the preservation of built heritage, and of cultural tourism. In what extend can significant buildings and structures determine further development of small towns? Are local politicians and citizens sufficiently equipped for solving these problems?
The dynamics of the megalopolis are well researched, but how do changes take place in small towns? What are their answers to globalisation and what their role in the urban network? How can certain concepts of regional planning influence their development? What is the impact of the intention of central authorities to limit the growth of large cities and to privilege the smaller ones, as it happened for example for pure ideological reasons in the Soviet Union? What should be done when the large city threatens to cannibalise a small town? Can we use European models to preserve important cultural heritage in small towns in former colonies?
Focusing on small towns may allow us to explore many almost unknown places, and result in a better understanding of small towns as well as of megalopolises.

Session conveners:

  • Ivan Nevzgodin

Session type: Specialist Session

Classification: EM/M - Early Modern to Modern


Bobriki, Stalinogorsk, Novomoskovsk – a Forgotten Sotsgorod as a Reflection of Soviet Town-Planning Ideas. A History of Construction and Ways of Development.

Author(s): Selivanova, Alexandra 

Cultural Politics and Everyday Experience: Urban Imaginary of a Small Croatian Town

Author(s): Kelemen, Petra 

Rebuilding a nation of provincials. Three Flemish towns and their reconstruction after the First World War.

Author(s): Vandeweghe, Evert 

Sibiu, Romania and Zamosc, Poland

Author(s): Rodwell, Dennis 

The twentieth century metamorphosis of Wünsdorf, Germany from mega-garrison to sleepy suburb

Author(s): Cote, Katherine Fischer