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CFP: Out of Place: Vagrancy and Settlement

Submission deadline: June 30, 2017

Conference date(s):
December 6, 2017 - December 7, 2017

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Conference Venue:

Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


The Centre for Metropolitan History (Institute of Historical Research) welcomes proposals for papers from any relevant historical period that trace the shifting experiences, representations and status of vagrancy in relation to the history of British settlement for this one-day conference.

How can exploring the images and realities of vagrancy sharpen our understanding of the histories of ‘settled’ communities, cities and parishes, which have otherwise been articulated from a sedentary perspective?

Suggested topics that might be addressed include:

• Without visible means: the living histories of those who were ‘marked’ by vagrancy and experienced lack of access to food, clothing, shelter or health provision.

• Rural wanderers/urban rogues: unsettling the divisions between urban centre and rural periphery through patterns migration, mobility, itinerancy and seasonal labour.

• The imaginary offence: the history of vagrancy in law, policy, legislation and the Poor Laws.

• Suspicious legacies: ‘Sus’ Laws, control orders (PSPOs) & ‘defensive architecture’ in public space.

• Wondrous characters: fantasies of imposters, shiftless and idle rogues, ‘professional’ beggars.

• Moving on: the dispersed geographies, modes of conveyance & placeless networks of vagrancy.

• Vagabond capitalism: vagrancy, dispossession and propertylessness as precondition to capitalist accumulation and the fluidity of capital.

• Undesirable dispositions: accounting for irreclaimable vagabonds vs. industrious labourers.

• Houses of correction: modes of policing, punishment, imprisonment, passing and transportation.

• ‘Rome, it is said, was built by vagabonds’: the vagrant as homo sacer (accursed man) and embodiment of ‘bare life’ who is both an exception to and founding element within the city-state.

• Tramping fictions: rogue literature, canting dictionaries and incognito social investigation.

• Mass departure: patterns of dispossession during war, famine, plague and acute rural poverty.

• Romantic vagrancy: the poetic valorization of vagrants as free from economic imperatives.

• Christ in the beggar: vagrants as recipients of almsgiving, supporting the ideals of caritas and delivering spiritual sustenance.

We invite proposals for papers (20 minutes in length) that address these and/or other questions.

Proposals should include an abstract (200 words maximum) and a short (half page) CV, and should be sent to by Friday 30 June 2017.

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