The international conference Small Cities and the Environment (from the Middle Ages to Contemporary Times) will be held in the ancient frontier town of Castelo de Vide (Portugal) between 14 and 16 March 2019. It is organised by the Small Cities in Time Network, Castelo de Vide Local Authority, the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the New University of Lisbon (Institute of Medieval Studies, Humanities Centre, Institute of Contemporary History) and the School of Hispanic and Iberian Studies (Casa de Velázquez, Madrid), through the CIDADES programme.
The subject of this conference focuses on the argument that the «environment» (in the twin sense of «nature» and «the area surrounding a locality») offers small cities amenities, benefits and constraints for development. Conversely, that, small cities have an impact on this environment, both inside the built-up area and in the surrounding land. Environmental amenities, constraints, impacts and policy responses, have important implications for urban governance and culture but also are intimately related to the urban economic sphere.
Both environmental history and urban history have developed strongly since the 1970s in the United States and Europe, with growing work not just on the contemporary but on the pre-modern period as well. However the history of small cities and towns has been somewhat underplayed despite a growing monographic literature. Here in our conference we bring together the two studies of environmental and urban history with an important, new and exciting focus on small cities and the environment. The theme raises major questions about how far the current literature on the urban environment, its questions and approaches largely dominated by a focus on metropolitan and major cities, is applicable to the small town, or whether we need to construct new theories and approaches for the study of the small city and the environment.
This conference will focus on four main themes:
1. the impact of small cities on the natural and cultural environment, particularly through the effects of extraction: quarrying for stone, wood, sand …, harnessing water, the demands of the urban food market and its consequences for the surrounding agricultural countryside, impacts of drainage (particularly effluents). Do questions about the urban micro-climate, crucial in the reflections of town-planners and hygienists, apply to small cities?
2.the impact of the natural environment on small cities, such as agriculture and foodsupply. woodsupply, and water provision considering both amenities and constraints, and the role of nature in the city (eg parks and green spaces).
3. the small city’s responses to the changes in the urban environment and to urban environmental problems such as sanitation, pollution, industrialisation and deindustrialisation.
4. how the environment can affect the development of small cities in the urban system: the opportunities and constraints caused by access to the sea, insularity, the limits of local resources; here one important topic is the competition between small cities and between them and the wider urban network.
We invite researchers, including senior and younger scholars to submit session proposals or paper proposals focused on one or more of these themes. Please send a proposal by completing the form until November 15th, 2018 http://www.castelodevide.pt/pequenascidadesnotempo/en_GB/encontros-cientificos/2019-pequenas-cidades-e-ambiente/submissoes/. You will be notified of acceptance November 30th, 2018
In general, the conference is unable to fund travel or accommodation costs but transport to the conference venue from Lisbon, together with lunches, an excursion and other sociability will be offered by the municipality of Castelo de Vide. In addition it may be possible to provide some support for scholars without funding. Hotels in the beautiful town are very inexpensive, as are other costs.
The conference languages will be Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.