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EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS25 - Confinement in the City: Urban Renewal and Detention Conditions (18th-19th centuries)

Coordinators: Tommaso Caliò (, Marco Cicchini (, Chiara Lucrezio Monticelli (

Read Session abstractThe urban renewal processes in 18th-19th-century European cities have often involved a change or relocation of urban places devoted to the confinement. These urban transformations have been closely related to the debate on the treatment of prisoners and the demand for prison reform.
The session aims at analysing the role played by such kind of institutions (prisons, lunatic asylums, other types of confinement) in the urban context, from an urban/architectural point of view, as well as in their social, cultural and economic implications.

The field of studies about the so-called “total institutions” has still recently pointed out different interpretations regarding the controversial issue of the contacts between the people within the institution and the wider community. This topic can be better investigated by taking into account an Urban History approach.
With regard to specific moments of urban renewal, what were the influences of the surrounding urban environment on the institutions of confinement? Conversely, what was the role of these institutions and their specific modes of detention in the process of urban renewal? How, in terms of adaptability or resistance, did the institutions face the external attempt to modify the internal regime? What forms of interactions were there between institutions and wider society in economic, cultural and religious fields? What possible impact could be find in the conditions and in the treatment of prisoners? How did urban residents experience the presence of these places of confinement within the city?

The 18th and 19th centuries, characterized by several penitentiary reforms, are particularly significant in this perspective. Following this periodization, papers taking into account different urban contexts are requested, with the aim to achieve a wide comparative and transnational overview on urban and social renewal case-studies. The following general themes are suggested:

1. Mutual influences between cultural and political debates about urban planning and regarding the relocation of the institutions of confinement and the related treatment of prisoners.
2. Forms of interactions between urban and architectural transformations and internal regime within institutions of confinement with particular regard to:
- management of the institutions (public or private actors, professional bodies, religious or lay staff, etc.)
- free or coerced labor (organization of work, typologies of production, remuneration, etc.)
- religious education and rehabilitation (religious practices, spiritual assistance, other forms of devotion, etc.)
- relationship between inmates and city dwellers.
Contributions may examine these subjects from a Social or Institutional History approach or with regard to cultural representations of such issues in public debates.
Keywords: confinement; detention conditions; asylum; prison; urban infrastructure; urban landscape; total institution

Thursday 30th August 2018
  Room 12 15.30-17.00



Detention space and urban space. A dialogue in urban process
Letizia Gorgo

From Proximity to Promiscuity: Connecting People and Prisons in XVIIIth Century Paris
Sophie Abdela

The Castle or the Green Field: dilemmas and solutions in English prison planning, 1780-1850
Allan Brodie

«Un’opera tutta evangelica». Prison reform in Papal State in the context of nineteenth-century Europe
Maria Romana Caforio