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EAUH Conference 2018


Session M46 - Alternative Narratives on Capital Cities, from the 19th to the 21st centuries

Coordinators: Maria Fernanda Derntl (, Nari Shelekpayev (

Read Session abstractThe 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 The preference will be given to works based on original case studies and exploring unpublished materials, which will give new meanings to ‘traditional’ sources or pursue rather unexplored tracks from sources such as advertising, artworks, digital media,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. The abstracts (450 words maximum) should be submitted to the EAUH site electronically ( before October 5, 2017.
Keywords: capital cities; representations; narratives; urban space; power

Thursday 30th August 2018
  Room 14 09.00-10.30, 11.00-12.30, 13.30-15.00



Alternative Narratives on Urban Systematization of Bucharest in Ceausescu’s Romania
Corneliu Pintilescu

Beyond Constantinople and beyond Istanbul: Telltales for a capital city
Ayse Hazar Koksal

Skopje: the “kitsch“ and “bastard” capital of the statues.
Sheyla Moroni, Giorgia Bulli, Erika Cellini, Silvia Pezzoli, Annick Magnier

Different Nation-States, Different Capitals
Goran Therborn

Intertwined narratives of progress and tradition: Tokyo as a modern capital city.
Beate Loeffler

Dialogue and disputes about the urban territory in Bogotá in 1920: correspondence between the inhabitants and the Municipal Council
Lena Império Hamburger Ribeiro dos Santos

Canberra – Controversies and Counter Discourses
Karl Friedhelm Fischer, James Weirick

The Survey of London's approaches to the history of East London
Peter Guillery

Imperial New Delhi = ‘Lutyens’ Delhi’? Revising a Modern Myth
Smriti Pant

Brasilia: alternative narratives of the city through graffiti
Renata Silva Almendra

Berlin: Burdened capital?
Clare Copley

School buildings in Nicosia in the post WWII period
Emilia Siandou