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Interdisciplinary Connections Between History and Regional Studies

April 25, 2017 - April 26, 2017
The Barlett School of Planning,, University College London (UCL)

14 Upper Woburn Place
United Kingdom

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The past plays a crucial role in understanding, developing and implementing regional economic development policies. History reveals path dependencies in regions’ economies and informs about the successes and failures of policy instruments. As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Regional Studies Association, the RSA Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History (ReHi) has been funded for the period 2017-2019. The main objective of the network is to explore what a historic perspective may contribute to regional studies as well as current regional policy-making and how approaches and methodologies used by historians can be better integrated in the regional studies.
The new network starts with a ‘stock-take’ of the connections that already exist between history and regional studies. Many geographers, political scientists and economists include historical perspectives in their work. This can include an occasional sketch of the historical context of economic and/or political processes. Additionally, concepts such as ‘learning region’ or ‘regional resilience’ are closely related to historical studies and analyse long- or medium term processes which have a historical dimension. Simultaneously, the historical sciences have a long tradition of studying regional economic development and a vast body of work exists. Agglomerated economies are an important subject in the historiography about the economic growth. Besides, historians make use of concepts borrowed from economic geography. For example business historians have operationalised concepts such as ‘industrial districts’ and ‘clusters’ in order to explain the dynamics of regional economies. Furthermore, planning and economic policies also include themes for historical. These and other dimensions of the social sciences provide a point of contact between historians and scholars with a regional studies background.
The start meeting should create a basic level of interdisciplinary connections on which can be built during the subsequent workshops. On the afternoon of Tuesday 25 April we will start with a discussion on key notes delivered by, amongst others, our local host John Tomaney, UCL as well as Joan R. Rosés, LSE who will speak about long-term economic development in regions. In the morning and early-afternoon of 26 April 2017 we will continue with 6 to 8 individual papers from researchers in
several stages of their career. We hope to schedule at least one or more PhD-students which we can offer travel bursaries. We especially (but not exclusively) invite:
 Economic geographers, human geographers, political scientists economists and sociologists who include historical perspectives in their work
 Economic historians, political historians, urban historians working on urban and regional development and researchers who focus on territorial policy history
We are looking for examples of research approaches and case-studies that helps us to get insight in the ontological and methodological similarities and differences between historical and regional studies. Many historians tend to work inductively, whereas regional studies are mostly theory driven. Nevertheless, there are numerous similarities between research approaches which will be presented and debated in the start meeting of the RSA research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History.
We invite colleagues to participate with a contributions for the morning/early-afternoon session on 26 April 2017. Please send an abstract of about 250 words and a short bio with full contact details before 10 March 2017 to the key contact name of the network: Marijn Molema:
 Those who submitted an abstract will be informed before 17 March
 Participation in the event is free of charge.
 Refreshments and beverages will be provided and the participants will be invited for a dinner on Tuesday 25 April
 Thanks to the financial support from the RSA we will be able to offer several travel bursaries for attending the workshop. If you wish to apply for a bursary or if you have any questions regarding your eligibility, please contact the key contact name of the network (see above). Please note that bursaries can only be offered to participants who are members of the RSA and fulfil one of the following eligibility criteria:
o are student or early career members of RSA,
o are associate (retired) members of RSA,
o are RSA member working in a Band B, C or D country (see
The Regional Studies Association (RSA) Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History will organize 5 workshops and 2 special sessions from April 2017 until the spring of 2019. The network is coordinated by organisers from four countries: dr. Marijn Molema (Fryske Akademy/Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences); dr. Arno van der Zwet (University of the West of Scotland); prof. dr. Martin Åberg and dr. Silke Reeploeg (Centre for Regional Studies, University of Karlstad); and dr. Sara Svensson (Center for Policy Studies, Central European University). The network’s associated partners are the Barlett School of Planning, University College London (contact person: Prof. dr. John Tomaney); the University "Magna Græcia" of Catanzaro, Italy (contact person: Prof. dr. Paolo Malanima and Prof. dr. Vittoro Daniele); and Delft Technical University, Netherlands (contact person: dr. Marcin Dabrowski).

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March 10, 2017, 9:00am BST

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