EAUH Conference 2018


Session M13. Urban Poverty and Poor Relief: Between Vulnerability and Resilience. Europa and Latin America, 16th-XXth centuries

Coordinators: Montserrat Carbonell Esteller (, Åsa Karlsson Sjögren (, Roey Sweet (, Ronny J. Viales-Hurtado (

The aim of this session is to show the influence of social policy agendas upon the shaping of urban space. In certain areas of European towns on different latitudes and of many Latin American cities, clusters of different structures of poor relief are emerging, having developed over the centuries, granting a specific profile to each town. These social infrastructures built at different historical moments are arranged in strata on a continuum which reaches the present day. The footprint of social policies and of poor relief is visible on the historical cartography of towns. The relationship between the local politics of poverty and the administration of poor relief in towns has contributed to the development of modern nations.

Fundamentally, this session intends to analyse the urban footprints of the crucial transformations in relation to welfare and the use that people made of such institutions. The session covers a broad period of time. It goes from the social reform of Erasmus, which marked the urban space in the Early Modern Period, starting from the construction of a network of specific institutions, to the emergence of the liberal poor relief system in the nineteenth century. This excluded working women and men from the old welfare systems, solely addressing the confinement of marginal groups. The limits of the liberal model encouraged the appearance of new forms of solidarity and welfare which arose from civil society.

The session is not just intended to compare, confront, contextualize and map in the style of global history, the historical footprints of welfare systems from different geographic areas and their connections, but will also welcome contributions which come within the classical debate about the degree of effectiveness of poor relief systems, which is presumed to be different in northern and southern Europe, and in Latin America. Contributions from the gender perspective will also be appreciated. It is recommended that the oral presentations should incorporate city plans showing the location of the third sector. We plan to explore the possibility of publishing selected papers in a peer reviewed journal such as Urban History.

We warmly welcome contributions that discuss the following topics:

- Welfare institutions in the urban symbolic and political space.
- Gender, poverty and poor relief.
- Interactions of local poor relief politics and emerging nations.
- Social infrastructures, immigration and labour market.
- Government, management, funding and sustainability of welfare institutions.
- Other informal poor relief circuits.
- Culture of urban poverty.
Keywords: urban poverty; poor relief; welfare institutions; gender; social sustainability; europe; latin America, modern period;