Ordering the margins of society: space, authority and control in early modern Britain

Ordering the margins of society: space, authority and control in early modern Britain
05 Sep 2017, 09:00 to 05 Sep 2017, 18:00
Call for Papers
IHR Wolfson Conference Suite, NB01/NB02, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Keynote speaker: Professor Andy Wood (Durham University)

Since the spatial turn, historians have conceptualised space not as a passive backdrop against which social interactions and everyday life took place, but as a social construct that shaped identity, societal development, human behaviour and experience.  Historians of early modern Britain have long been concerned with questions of social order and control. Debates continue about the relationship between the coercive and participatory facets of governance and the capacity for social discipline. Yet while these subjects remain fertile areas of research, relatively little work has examined the interaction between space, authority and social control of the people on the margins of society.

This one-day workshop aims to address these historiographical lacunae by considering the attempts of those in charge to order society within particular places, spaces and locales. It asks how marginal populations (i.e. the economic or socially vulnerable) were organised in spaces such as workhouses, taverns, households, prisons, asylums, hospitals, streets, marketplaces and churches. It seeks to explore how authorities attempted to exert social control and discipline within these spaces and how these efforts might be resisted. What were the extents and limits of negotiation, participation and defiance within the systems of regulation, and how did this shape social order?

Proposals for 20-minute papers are invited from both new and established researchers to contribute to this discussion. Suggested topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Regulation and control of marginal people in institutional spaces
  • Social deviancy, agency and spatial disorder
  • Discipline, authority and domestic space
  • Digital Humanities and analyses of space (GIS, network analysis etc.)
  • Mobility, migration and geographies of social control
  • Physical and conceptual boundaries of authority
  • Gender and power in public and private spaces
  • Tensions between agency and subordination in early modern spaces

Proposals should comprise a 200-word abstract and a brief biography. Please email proposals to Charmian Mansell, Joe Harley and Richard Bell at orderingthemargins@gmail.com by 21st May 2017.  Some travel grants will be available for postgraduate and early career researchers and will be announced closer to the conference

Thanks to the Power and Postan fund at the IHR and Past & Present for their generous support.


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