Call for paper for the International conference on Imperial Cities: The Tsarist Empire, the Habsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire in Comparison organized by:


German Historical Institute, Moscow, April 26-27, 2018


This conference will seek to determine how fruitful it is to call cities imperial in the context of the continental empires of Eastern Europe. What is specific about “imperial cities” in Eastern Europe? How can questions of imperial history expand our understanding of these cities? And finally, how instructive is it to explore these empires in the light of urban history?

The conference approaches the phenomenon of imperial cities from the eighteenth to the twenty-fi rst centuries based on the following three, interwoven aspects:

  • Cityscape: Imperial cities claim to represent the empire vis-à-vis both their own inhabitants and foreign powers, and to provide space for different population groups. To what extent does the given city meet this claim? How do areas of ethnic, religious and social entanglement relate to areas of segregation in the city?
  • Imperial modernization: Capital and industry accumulate in imperial cities, which thus stage themselves as sites of social and technological progress. Aiming to embody the civilizing power of the empire, they initiate civilizing campaigns on its peripheries, but at the same time they are themselves objects of modernizing interventions. How do such endeavors manifest themselves in cities, and how successful are they?
  • Afterlife of empire: The imperial imprint of the city often outlives the demise of the empire. Typically, “Habsburg”, “Ottoman” or “Soviet” buildings and quarters still shape the appearance of the city. How does the city deal with this specific heritage? Are “imperial” buildings, streets or quarters torn down and overbuilt, are they preserved and transformed as tourist sites, or do the new rulers strive to politically re-code the imperial remains?


Send your abstract (max. 500 words) and a short CV by November 17, 2017 to eszter.gantner@herder-institut.de or ulrich.hofmeister@univie.ac.at

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