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Envisioning Community

Photography courtesy of Dudley Archives and Local History Service 2009Space, Place and Translating the Past in 19th and 20th Century Britain

Envisioning Community is a one-day multidisciplinary conference held on Saturday 27 February exploring how approaches to the study of community can better inform our understanding of the historical past.

Featuring renowned keynote speakers in the fields of historical and human geography, as well as in the field of visual media and its interpretation, the conference is open to delegates from all disciplines, engaging with the processes of space and place in community in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain.

Understanding location as a process has led to a reassessment of historical study. This has been informed by the new challenges of the global in which interrogation of the universal has led to questions regarding the local.  Methodologically, this has given rise to new developments. Scholars wishing to reconstruct and ‘pull apart’ the narratives of social space have recognized the benefits of adopting interdisciplinary methods and sources. This has led to reconsideration of the role of literary and visual representations in the construction and making of ‘imagined’ space, and in the dissection of the relationship between community and human action. Yet, while theory has begun to inform historical practice, the application of interdisciplinary tools and methodologies falls behind.

The object of the conference is to tackle these issues. It will interrogate spatially related communities: how the inhabitants of the same streets or towns constructed, responded to and used their physical locations to forge a shared sense of identity, or to bring about social and political change. It will also serve as a practical forum: promoting and debating the value of interdisciplinary practices, methodology and application in ‘envisioning community’ and reassessing history. The conference aims to build on the challenges wrought by the ‘spatial turn': exploring not only how the study of space and location enriches our telling of the past, but how the use of interdisciplinary methods and approaches to community can benefit our understanding of the ‘lived’ past.

The conference is open to anyone engaging with the processes of space and place in community in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain and will appeal to scholars from many disciplines, history, art, film and television, translation and literature, sociology and politics.  With the underlying aim of exploring practice this will be a challenging workshop style conference which fully interrogates methodologies of translating communities from the nineteenth century to the present.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Elizabeth Edwards, University of the Arts London
  • Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor, University of Warwick
  • Dr. Lynne Walker, Institute of Historical Research, London
  • Professor Gillian Rose, The Open University

Biographies of Keynote Speakers

This conference has been generously supported by the Economic History Society and the Royal Historic Society.

Further details are available on the Humanities Research Centre website