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Wednesday 18 March 2020 14.00 - 16.00
D-3 URB01 Fleeting Feelings. Towards an Emotional History of Urban Space (19th and 20th Centuries)
P.N. van Eyckhof 2, 004
Network: Urban Chair: Nicolas Kenny
Organizers: Anneleen Arnout, Rebecca Madgin Discussant: Nicolas Kenny
Anneleen Arnout : Emotion as Tool. Urban Dwellers and their Experience of Urban Change in Amsterdam, 1850-1930
This paper explores the ways in which urban dwellers in Amsterdam felt about and emotionally managed changes to their environment between 1850 and 1930. Like in many other cities, this was a period of intense transformation on many fronts. It is a well-known trope in historiography that these transformations elicited ... (Show more)
This paper explores the ways in which urban dwellers in Amsterdam felt about and emotionally managed changes to their environment between 1850 and 1930. Like in many other cities, this was a period of intense transformation on many fronts. It is a well-known trope in historiography that these transformations elicited highly emotional responses from urban dwellers; yet the empirical base for this claim is rather narrow. This paper wants to explore to what degree it holds for Amsterdam. Because a lot of the changes were very physical, the focus is on the experience of concrete interventions in the urban environment. Three case-studies have been selected – each representing a different type of intervention: (1) the arrival of illuminated advertising as an example of a new form or technology introduced in the urban landscape; (2) the demolishing of buildings as an example of the way people coped with the disappearance of familiar sites or materials; (3) the use of asphalt as a new paving material as an example of new solutions or materials replacing existing ones.
Extensive scholarship on the emotional experience of changes to urban space in this period is still lacking. For some cities, scholars have laid bare the way intellectuals protested against sweeping projects of urban renewal and undertook action to protect historic buildings and landscapes. Scholars interested in the introduction of new technologies have likewise stressed the bewilderment felt by contemporaries. However, both strands of scholarship are based on rather specialized sources, such as intellectual or technical journals, and zoom in on very specific moments, such as the first train journey. We are left to wonder how widespread and long-lasting these feelings were. Drawing on a very large selection of newspaper articles, this paper will argue that urban dwellers employed a range of emotional practices and discourses to cope with change. Methodologically, this paper will reflect upon a) the potential of newspapers as a source for emotional culture, and b) the use of digital tools to gain access to emotional discourses in a more systematic rather than an incident-based way. (Show less)

Stefan Höhne : Fragile Passengers. Fear, Loathing and Politics of Complaint in the New York City Subway 1960 - 1978.
In the 1960s and 1970s, New York City was facing one of the most serious crises in its history. A downturn in industry and commerce and an exodus of the middle class to the suburbs gave rise to growing social, economic and racial tensions and an erosion of the city’s ... (Show more)
In the 1960s and 1970s, New York City was facing one of the most serious crises in its history. A downturn in industry and commerce and an exodus of the middle class to the suburbs gave rise to growing social, economic and racial tensions and an erosion of the city’s social and infrastructural fabric. While this crisis affected all urban infrastructural systems, from sanitation to electricity, it was the New York City subway that epitomized the crisis and became a global icon for the downfall of this once great city.

This paper will focus on how the passengers coped with and adopted to this infrastructural crisis by engaging with an unusual corpus of sources: more than 8.000 complaint letters of subway passengers from the late 1950s to late 1970s, discovered in the archives of the New York Transit Museum. As I will demonstrate, these letters draw a multifaceted image of the New York City subway as a highly emotionally charged and tension-laden territory, with most fears and conflicts played out along lines of race, class and gender. These complaints allow for intimate insights into the experiences of subway passengers and their emotional strategies of enduring this infrastructural crisis. Furthermore, the bureaucratic responses to these to these testimonies of outrage, anxiety, denunciation and threat highlight how the perceptions and emotions are made negotiable and productive by infrastructure administrations. In discussing these dynamics, I will also highlight the methodological challenges and constraints to a historical analysis of emotions and experiences in the context of urban and infrastructural history. (Show less)

Michala Hulme : Working-Class Burials in the Urban Municipal Cemetery
Over the past forty years, scholars have debated what the experience of death was like for the inhabitants of the nineteenth-century city. Their work has tended to focus on two main areas; a narrative framework of the history of burial provision - loosely based on the European model which states ... (Show more)
Over the past forty years, scholars have debated what the experience of death was like for the inhabitants of the nineteenth-century city. Their work has tended to focus on two main areas; a narrative framework of the history of burial provision - loosely based on the European model which states that burial provision shifted from churchyards to cemeteries - and the experience of extremes – the wealthy and the pauper.
The pauper burial has often been regarded as something that was actively avoided by the lower classes in society, as it was seen as one’s final failure in life. Synonymous with the pauper burial was the public grave, which is often referred to as the ‘pauper grave’.

For the first time in burial provision history, a study of 1500 grave receipts have been analysed from Manchester’s Philip Park Cemetery. The results have proved that a large proportion of the people interred in a public grave, were buried at the expense of a family member or burial club and not the state. Buried in this type of burial plot was a mixture of professions such as engineers, policemen and labourers. This new contribution to knowledge using empirical evidence to argue that the public grave and the paupers grave can not share the same interpretation.
This type of investigation is new to the field of burial provision research and the results will challenge the current historiography, which has so far failed to adequately distinguish between the pauper grave and the public grave. (Show less)

Rebecca Madgin : Why do Historic Buildings Matter? Emotional Attachments and Urban Heritage
Urban changes often provoke strong emotional reactions and exposes latent emotional attachments to familiar environments. This paper will examine a range of different moments of urban change including proposed demolition of buildings and improvements to the existing environment to consider the ways in which ‘change’ can be used as both ... (Show more)
Urban changes often provoke strong emotional reactions and exposes latent emotional attachments to familiar environments. This paper will examine a range of different moments of urban change including proposed demolition of buildings and improvements to the existing environment to consider the ways in which ‘change’ can be used as both an empirical reality and a methodological mechanism. More specifically the paper will focus on decisions to retain or demolish historic buildings during the second half of the twentieth century in the UK to ask why history, in the form of protected historic buildings, matters to a range of different individuals including campaigners, urban planners and government officials.
Drawing on archival data and place-based oral histories the paper will consider a). the range of different emotional responses to change and b). how these decisions revealed the type, nature and intensity of people’s emotional attachments to historic buildings. In so doing the paper will consider the methodological challenges of conducting analysis into emotional reactions and attachments to ask the extent to which textual analysis can unlock a better understanding of the emotional relationship between people and place. (Show less)



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