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Cities and disasters: urban adaptability and resilience in history

November 3, 2016 - November 4, 2016
Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research

Wolfson Conference Suite
IHR, Senate House, Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom

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The Centre for Metropolitan History, in association with the National Institutes for the Humanities in Japan (NIHU) will be holding a major conference on 3-4 November 2016 which seeks to explore the ways in which cities across time and geographical regions have experienced, and been shaped by, natural disasters and other ‘shocks’. 

The 350th anniversary of London’s ‘Great Fire’ of 1666 provides an opportunity to reflect more widely on the impact of urban disasters, to bring together scholars working on different periods and countries, and to bring to bear different perspectives (literary, material/archaeological, architectural, historical, cultural, linguistic etc.)

Provisional Programme

Thursday 3 November

09:30 Registration and refreshments

09:50 Welcome

10:00 Session 1: State, society, and resilience: opportunistic responses
        to reconstruction

         Eva Bodovics (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), Struggle for
            becoming resilient: a case study on a Hungarian town’s flood
            management practices, 1872–1907

         Juan Vicente Garcia-Marsilla, Carmel Ferragud (University of 
            Valencia) and Luis Pablo Martinez (Valencia region), Out of
            the ashes: the city of Valencia after the fire of 1447

         Baris Tasyakan (University of California, San Diego), Natural
            disasters and transformation of an imperial city: Ottoman
            Bursa in the mid-nineteenth century

11:30 Refreshments

12:00 Session 2: Citizenship, democracy, and the 'right to the city'

        Stefan Couperus (University of Groningen), Forced by nature:
           rethinking and redoing local democracy after the Galveston
           flood of 1900

        Avi Sharma (Centre for Metropolitan Studies, TU, Berlin), On the
           afterlives of destruction: rubble and resilience in postwar Berlin

        Jessica van’t Westeinde (Aarhus University), Misfortune in the
           metropolis? Jewish communities of second-century Rome

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Session 3: Knowledge and opportunity: discourses of recovery

        Lorenza Gianfrancesco (Chichester University/Goldsmiths 
           University of London), Looking at disasters in early 
           seventeenth-century Naples: the 1631 eruption of Vesuvius

        [Unfortunately, Greg Bankoff (University of Hull) and Caroline Williams (University
           of Bristol) are now unable to present their paper on Spanish colonial 
           responses to disasters in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries]

        Pollyanna Rhee (Columbia University), ‘An opportune thing  
           perhaps’:perfecting a city through disaster

15:40 Refreshments  

16:10 Session 4: Ecosystems, infrastructure, and human/non-human

        Aditya Ramesh (School of Oriental and African Studies, University
           of London), Flood as disaster: land and water in an expanding

        Gary Willis (Institute of Historical Research, University of London),
           The response of the natural environment to the trauma of the
           London Blitz  

        Han Xiao (University of Hong Kong), Urbanization, society and
           cyclone in Yangon: acknowledging the role of slow ecosystems
           in the political transition  

18:00 Drinks Reception   

Friday 4 November  

09:30 Registration and refreshments  

09:50 Session 5: Religion, ritual and history: recovery through

        Manuel Álvarez Martí-Aguilar (University of Málaga), Cádiz and
           the tsunamis in the longue durée: apotropaic responses against
           the invasion of the sea

        Rob Dale (Newcastle University), ‘There, where they have grown
           accustomed to flooding’: responses to the Leningrad flood of
           September 1924 in historical perspective

        Martin Holland (Clemson University, South Carolina),
           Commemoration and urban reconstruction in Oklahoma City:
           memorialization as an economic development strategy  

11:20 Refreshments  

11:50 Session 6: Urban adaptation: growth, strategies, and opportunity   
        Jacob Field (Massey University/University of Waikato, New
           Zealand), The charitable response to the Great Fire of London  
           and the rebuilding of St Paul’s

       [Due to ill health Mine Topcubasi Cilingiroglu is no longer able to
         give the paper on Urban adaptability of Istanbul, Yedikule]

        Stamatis Zografos (University of Suffolk/UCL Bartlett School of
           Architecture), London Fire Brigade cuts: towards urban amnesia  

13:00 Lunch  

14:00 Session 7: Responses to disasters in early modern capitals
         (sponsored by National Institutes for Humanities, Japan)  

        Kazuaki Sawai (Kansai University, Osaka, Japan), The deluge of
           Istanbul in 1563: a flood without a big river

        Miu Sugahara (International Christian University, Tokyo),
           London authorities’ responses to fires before the Great Fire of 

        Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck, University of London), Plague and fire
           in seventeenth-century London

        Koichi Watanabe (National Institute of Japanese Literature, 
           National Institutes for Humanities), Metropolitan responses
           toward a series 
of disasters in 1780s Edo  

16:00 Refreshments  

16:30 Session 8: Strategies for survival: resilience and resistance  

        Nathan Clarke (Minnesota State University, Moorhead), Emerging
           from the rubble: the creative destruction of the poor after the
           1970 Ancash earthquake

        Heidi Krajewski (Tulane University, New Orleans), Reconstructing
           poverty in the aftermath of the 1972 earthquake in Managua,

        Chris Courtney (National University of Singapore), River city: living
            with floods in Hankou, China, 1831–1954  

18:00 End of conference  

Advance booking required:
online using debit/credit card via
or by cheque using the form: 

Fee (includes refreshments, lunch, and if booking for 3 November, a drinks reception)

Full 2-day attendance: £70

Full 1-day attendance: £35

Concession (student, unwaged, retired) 2-day: £50

Concession 1-day: £25

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October 31, 2016, 9:00am BST

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