Cfp: Urban Identities - Renewal and Heritage

Traditionally, social, ethnic and religious diversity characterized Central European towns. It applied to urban settings regardless of their size, and was equally true of capitals and small towns. Although socially, the population of towns is still differentiated, their heterogeneity has declined in ethnic and religious terms. One may only discover traces of past diversity in some places. The root causes of this are the large-scale changes that impacted the region in the modern age. Regardless of whether these unfolded gradually in a dramatic manner, political, social, and economic processes drastically transformed patterns of the urban realms of the region in the 20th century. Changes include the composition, structure of the population, built environment and urban-rural relations etc. The disintegration of empires, changes of international boundaries, the destruction that followed war or forced and insensitive development projects, ethnic cleansing, deportations, annihilation or expulsion of communities are part of the history of nearly all Central European cities. There were more peaceful yet controlled demographic processes that brought about in the same locations. In some fortunate cases, continuity is still detectable, while in other places history resulted in fragmentation. Yet other examples are cases for a complete break with the past, either due to a completely new built environment or the change of population. Accordingly, grasping the current identity of cities is a difficult task. It is not only an open ended process but may be interpreted in many ways, depending on the perspective and the focus.

(Illustration: Fortepan / Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentációs Központ/VÁTI)
(Illustration: Fortepan / Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentációs Központ/VÁTI)

The Institute of Central European Studies of the József Eötvös Research Centre at the University of Public Service intends to examine the 20th century history of urban centres of Central Europe an area ranging from the Baltic zone to Serbia specifically, how changes that impacted the region influenced individual towns. What disappeared and what remained, and how current inhabitants relate to these changes? How the memories of past epochs live? What the identity of cities comprises of? We may approach these issues in many ways. The questions below are some of the examples: 

- “The growth of cities”: fundamental patterns of urban demography, regional paradigms of migration and flight in 20th century

- “New elites and old inhabitants, old elites and new inhabitants”: the impact of political and social changes (nationalizing cities, population exchange and/or how urban societies were restructured)

- “Paths of modernity”: paradoxes of urban development in the 20th century (forced industrialization, altering the built environment, construction of blocks of flats etc.)

- “Red-light districts and rust belts”: urban areas that change functions (prostitution, party quarters, historic centres, gentrification etc.) 

- “Traces of the past”: attitudes towards the history of towns and built heritage, visual imprints of identities (associations for urban beautification, civic activism, urban branding, heritage etc.)

- “Urban and rural areas”:  changes in the relationship between the city and its surrounding (spread of urban lifestyle, moving to the city, changes of the discrepancy between urban and rural incomes etc.)

 - “Patterns of violence”: historicizing urban safety and security, public, legitimate and hidden forms of violence for the past hundred years

- “Cleanliness, hygiene and epidemics”: changing conditions of urban life and politics related to the body in 20th century

The editors of the bilingual Central European Horizons (the English version is registered as ISSN 2732-0456) are particularly looking forward to including papers in this thematic issue that adopt one of the themes mentioned above. Please, submit your abstract of approx. 450 words to by 15 August 2020. Editors will select the abstracts and formulate the table of contents by 1 September. The deadline for submitting the completed papers is 15 November 2020. The length of individual papers should not exceed 5000 words