Nationalism and the City

10 February 2012 - 11 February 2012

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge

Conference Convener

Christopher Moffat (Gonville & Caius/History)


Conference Summary

This conference is about the possibilities and interdictions of cities, the formation of political horizons, and the dynamics of identity. The object is to address an intersection: to consider histories and trajectories of nationalism as they interact with those of urban space and place. Specifically, the conference will explore the possibility of employing spatiality as an interpretive lens to disrupt existing theories of nations and nationalism: how might we re-consider the ‘imagined community’ by locating it within what urbanists describe as the city’s ‘real-and-imagined’ space? How are political vocabularies like nationalism equipped or subverted by urban environments? In which ways might the city affect, reflect or destabilize discourses of national identity? The event will facilitate discussion on these and other questions, navigating the urban palimpsest with voices from a variety of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds to enliven debates on space, politics and identity.


Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms

University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.




The conveners are grateful for the support of The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, and the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN).

 Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)



Friday, 10 February 2012

12.00 - 13.00


13.00 - 13.15

Opening address: Chris Moffat (History, University of Cambridge)

13.15 - 14.45

Panel I: Trajectories
Chair: Wendy Pullan (Architecture, University of Cambridge)

  • Oliver Zimmer (History, University of Oxford): “’Journeys’ and ‘maps’: German townspeople and their national imaginations, 1850-1900
  • James Anderson (Geography, Queen’s University Belfast): “Nationalism, State/City Relations and Ethno-Nationally Divided Cities
  • Claire Sutherland (Politics, Durham University): “Nation and Citizen: Bringing the City Back In

14.45 - 15.15


15.15  - 16.45

Panel II: Representations
Chair: Caroline Knowles (Sociology, Goldsmiths)

  • Aylin Kuryel (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis) and Bob Pannebaker (Independent Scholar and Artist): “Speaking Walls: (De)nationalising Istanbul
  • Nicolas Cambridge (Independent Scholar): “Savile Row to Sebiro: Fashioning Sartorial Imaginaries in the Contested Spaces of the Metropolis”
  • G. Michal Murawski (Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge): “Imported Municipal Vernacular: The Palace of Culture in Warsaw

16.45 - 17.00 


17.00 - 18.30

Keynote address

Thomas Blom Hansen (Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Stanford University): “At Home With Strangers: Urban Life and the Moral Force of Nationalism

Introduction and Discussion: Shruti Kapila (History, University of Cambridge)

18.30 - 19.30

Drinks reception


Saturday, 11 February 2012

10.00 - 11.00

Panel III: Centres/Peripheries
Chair: George Carothers (Geography, University of Cambridge)

  • James O’Connor (History of Art, University of Cambridge): “The Sulcus and the Sprawl: the Mythic Borders and Ephemeral Frontiers of Suburban Houston”
  • Jihad Farah (Urban Planning, University of Liege): “Ask the Periphery: A Vantage Point for Understanding City and Nationalism Relations”
  • Göran Therborn (Sociology, University of Cambridge): “Nationalisms and Urban Iconography”

11.00 - 11.30 


11.30 - 13.00 

Panel IV: Imaginative Geographies
Chair: Mary-Ann Middelkoop (History, University of Cambridge)

  • Stephen Legg (Geography, University of Nottingham): Spatial Histories and Affective Geographies: Forms and Narratives of Nationalism in Colonial Delhi
  • Joshua Arthurs (History, West Virginia University): “After Mussolini: Roma capitale, the Fall of Fascism and the ‘Death of the Nation’”
  • Jesus Chairez (History, University of Cambridge): “Locating Indian Nationalism and Untouchability: From the City and the Village”

13.00 - 14.00 

Sponsored by the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN)

14.00 - 15.30

Panel V: Citizens and Communities
Chair: Michael Keith (COMPAS, University of Oxford)

  • Angharad Closs Stephens (Geography, Durham University); “The Persistence of Nationalist Imaginaries
  • Sarah Jenkins (International Politics, University of Aberystwyth): “Dealing with Strangers: Space, Identity and Conflict in Urban Kenya
  • Joe Penny (New Economics Foundation): “Zionism, Security and the City: the Production of Insecure Spaces and Precarious Geographies in East Jerusalem

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30

Roundtable Discussion on Nationalism and the City
Chair: Thomas Blom Hansen (Stanford University)

  • C.A. Bayly (History, University of Cambridge)
  • Caroline Knowles (Sociology, Goldsmiths University)
  • Michael Keith (COMPAS, University of Oxford)
17.30 - 17.40
Closing Statement