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EAUH Conference 2018


Session M05 - Transforming Cities, Negotiating Spaces and Powers: Markets and Civic Buildings in Europe, the Middle-East and North-Africa (XIIIth c. / XIXth c. )

Coordinators: Colin Arnaud (, Alessandra Ferrighi (, Nora Lafi (

Read Session abstractThe renovation of central market places was in cities a moment of redefinition of not only the spatial organization, but also of the relationship between rulers, notables, guilds, power brokers and the general population. The transformation of the seat of the municipal authorities also represented a moment of redefinition of the socio-institutional topography of the city. This aim of this session is to use such moments (which were also always moments of intense archival production) in order to understand the logics of resilience (spatial, morphological, institutional, social), dynamics of change and vectors of disruption/negotiation/mediation that were acting. The session also aims at examining the evolution of centralities. Markets featured a kind of horizontal centrality, thanks to their capacity of gathering the whole town on the same level. Markets were also central places as for civic mobilizations. Municipal buildings were generally close to such places, and the urban élite that ruled them had close links with the markets. Sometimes municipal buildings were also places of commerce, or the buildings of the guild of merchants. Contrary to other places of power, access was thus more open.
During the Early Modern and Modern Period however the trend was to separate more clearly the sphere of the political power from the rest of the urban activities. During the 19th century, instead of including commercial spaces for a large population, the new municipal buildings were built as separate monuments. Also the central places were gradually objects of monumentalizations: they were freed from their chaotic daily markets. This reinforced a new vertical centrality.
This narrative from a horizontal to a vertical centrality between the late middle Ages and the Modern Period can be revisited through comparison in various cultural contexts. The narrative – also a narrative of modernity – can be re-elaborated in surprising ways, because political and commercial institutions sometimes featured original spatial organizations: in some cities, the seat of old regime municipal institutions was in the palace of the notable that headed them and was thus mobile, depending of the person in charge. In other cities, markets were the core of the power of the guild of merchants, which also acted as an institution of urban governance, in other cities, town hall were also commercial buildings. Processes of inclusion and exclusion and the kind of relationship between places of commerce and places of urban power could be different according to the place.
Papers examining such relations between spatial reconfigurations and socio-institutional configurations are of particular interest for this session, that wishes to avoid a priori cultural dichotomies between Europe and the Arabo-Ottoman world, preferring discussion centered on precise case studies. Comparative contributions are welcome, as well as monographic case studies on European and Arab-Ottoman cities.
Keywords: markets; town halls; civic buildings; city centre; urban centrality; Middle East

Saturday 1st September 2018
  Room 05 09.30-11.00, 11.30-13.00



The French Quarter of Thessaloniki (1890-1940). Continuities and discontinuities in the iconography of negotiating spaces of a city in transition
Vassilios Colonas

Transforming Urban Spaces in the 19th Century Ottoman Geography: Bursa on the focus of Tanzimat Modernization Reforms
Sinem Turkoglu Onge, Mustafa Onge

Transforming and Interpreting the Casbah : Heritage and the Negotiation of Public Space in Tunis between the Ottoman Era, Colonization and Independence
Beya Abidi-Belhadj

From boundary to new centrality. The transformation of the Santa Cruz Monastery to accommodate the new facilities of the liberal State during the 19th century
Margarida Relvão Calmeiro

An Invisible King: Political Power and Urban Space in Spanish Milan
Stefano D'Amico

Annual fairs and town spaces – the influence of trade on the development of markets and town halls in Greater Poland.
Anna Paulina Orłowska, Patrycja Szwedo

Cores of commerce, power and social interaction: Flemish cloth-halls in late 13th – 14th century
Anna Mayzlish

Rebuilding the public space in fifteenth-century English towns
James Davis

Town Hall Thresholds and Civic Agency in the Late Medieval Low Countries
Nathan van Kleij

“Per servitio di questi populi…”: The development of Valletta’s market place; a study of the evolution of the socio-spatial dialectic between the XVIth and the XIXth centuries.
Christian Mifsud