California Studies Association

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Conference Announcement: Space of History/History of Space

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Conference Announcement:

Spaces of History / Histories of Space

Emerging Approaches to the Study of the Built Environment

A Conference at the University of California at Berkeley on April 30,

In the past three decades, a growing number of scholars in the
humanities and social sciences have turned their attention to
space and to the built environment as a means of understanding
historical processes. The writings of Lefebvre, Foucault, Gregory,
Harvey, Soja, Latour and others have significantly reshaped the
intellectual landscape across academic fields. Meanwhile, the
subject matter and research methods of the history of architecture,
landscapes and planning have become increasingly open to

Looking to survey and assess new approaches and analytical tools for
studying the history of built spaces across a
variety of scales and geographies, this conference will explore a
range of questions pertaining to theory, methodology and
pedagogy. How has the “spatial turn” in the humanities and social
sciences transformed the ways in which history of the built
environment is theorized and researched? How should we study a
historical moment when certain types of evidence predominate?
What are the potentials and biases in the use of particular research
techniques and narrative forms? To what extent are these
choices shaped by disciplinary knowledge? How might such
interrogations help us conceive new pedagogies for
design and planning?

The conference is expected to attract a diverse group of scholars
interested in interdisciplinary research on the history
of the built environment. Participation from graduate students and
early career academics is especially welcome. Participants will
present papers related to one of the following two tracks:

1. Interrogating Theories and Methodologies
Papers in this track will explore how built spaces have been
integrated into historical research in a variety of
disciplines, or discuss the use of particular theoretical
formulations that have become influential in studying the history
of the built environment. We are especially interested in work that
assesses the potentials and limits of research
methods, such as ethnography and oral history, as well as the use of
various types of archival evidence.

2. History as Pedagogy: Teaching and Practice
Papers in this track will examine pedagogical approaches to history
in design education and their implications for the
making of the built environment, including professional practice.
Topics of interest include the use of history as
precedent, the construction of a survey course, the relationship
between history teaching and the design studio, and
other interdisciplinary approaches to historical research such as
experimental art practice and other creative mediums.

As part of the activities of this conference, we will be holding a
special poster exhibition that explores the relationship between
historical thinking and the making of the built environment. This
exhibition especially welcomes the participation of graduate
students in professional programs as well as advanced undergraduate
students. For submission guidelines for posters, please refer to
the forthcoming conference website at

Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract and a short CV in Word
format to and to ceciliachu_at
by January 8, 2010. Accepted participants will be notified by February
5, 2010. Authors of accepted proposals should submit a
completed paper of no more than 10 pages that summarizes the main
points of the presentation by April 2, 2010.

This conference is organized by graduate students Tiago Castela,
Cecilia Chu, Clare Robinson, Yael Allweil and Huey Ying Hsu.
The event is jointly sponsored by the Draper Architectural History
Research Endowment of the College of Environmental Design
at UC Berkeley and by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC
Berkeley. For additional information about the conference,
please contact the organizers, or visit the conference website.


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