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Coordinators: Maria Fernanda Derntl, Nari Shelekpayev

The making of capital cities has involved not only giving shape and material existence to buildings, monuments and avenues, but also creating images, narratives and representations of their statehood. As loci of political power, capital cities provide an advantageous framework for analyzing how symbolic meanings, cultural values and political purposes may be expressed, contested or negotiated within the space of a city. It is not uncommon that official discourses, fabricated and promoted by the state authorities, hegemonize representations of capital cities and impose a particular vision of national identity. However, the attribution of meanings to capital cities and the elaboration of imaginaries about them has never been solely a top-down process, neither was it restricted to the visions promoted by authorities or official media. From elitist dreams, dressed into utopian designs, capital cities evolved into urbanities on their own, while their monuments and their strong symbolic content continue to inspire a myriad of alternative narratives.

As dynamic urban spaces, capital cities are experienced and interpreted in multiple ways, allowing for contradictory positions and counter discourses to be voiced. As a result, official discourses and subjective expressions may intertwine or clash to challenge the symbolic order, which is guaranteed and maintained by the very existence of capital cities.

This session invites scholars from various disciplines, including but not limited to urban history and urban planning, social and cultural anthropology, architectural history, geography, political sciences, cultural and media studies to present proposals focused on the analysis of capital cities in varied historical and social contexts, from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Papers dealing with ‘beyond-the-state’ narratives, critical or deviant postures of official discourses, and/or adopting a comparative perspective on capital cities across the globe are particularly welcome.

The preference will be given to works based on original case studies and exploring unpublished materials, which will give new meanings to ‘traditional’ sources or pursue rather unexplored tracks from sources such as advertising, artworks, digital media, movies, music or oral testimonials.

Junior and senior scholars working in various disciplines and geographic areas (not limited to Europe) are welcome to submit the abstracts (of 300 words maximum) to the EAUH site electronically before October 5, 2017.

The full papers should be submitted by August 15, 2018. The number of places is limited and a (selected) publication of the conference results (in a form of a journal issue or collective volume) is expected

Call for papers Session SS34, EAUH

inscription dates

Maria Fernanda Derntl
São Paulo, SP


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