EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS17. Border Towns and the Resilience of Frontiers (16th - 18th centuries)

Coordinators: Mathieu Grenet (, Hanna Sonkajärvi (

Several studies have recently enquired into the practices of inclusion and exclusion in Early Modern cities – based on origin, religion or economic interests, among other things. Others have dealt with the social and political construction of borders and frontiers, which are mostly understood as being not exclusively geographical ones. However, there still appears to be a lack on studies that would specifically focus on border towns and cities, and the ways in which urban space was affected by political changes during the Early Modern Period. Once territories were passed from one sovereignty to another, the nature of border(s) could change, as could the social and spatial practices related to these border(s). Hence, what exactly happens when a city stops being a border city? Or, what if it becomes one? What if the border is still there, but the city changes from one sovereignty to another? Or what if the border shifts only at some distance away from its former location? How did different social groups perceive these changes, and to what extent did the latter affect their uses of urban space(s)? Eventually, were some urban spaces and/or social groups more resilient than others in this respect, keeping some sort of “memory” of the border across time?
The session welcomes contributions that deal with questions of shifting borders and how these shifts impacted the political, social, economic or religious organization of a given city or cities in Europe. Papers may focus on questions of practice, concerning the resilience of local political elites and administrations or the local population. They may also deal with the contemporary considerations to change the space of both cities and states, political agendas, procedures to implement them and the 'instruments' to control these implementations.
The session welcomes proposals and presentations both in French and English.
Keywords: borders, frontiers, space, resilience