November 12th - 13th, 2021, Mainz
The establishment of permanent settlements opened the way to a rapidly increasing population density, humans (and animals) lived ever closely together; in addition to new possibilities new and multifold challenges arose from these altered configurations. Especially where smaller settlements developed into larger population centers, the possibility of communities to organize themselves along the lines of face-to-face interactions waned, while reciprocal dependencies increased.
While there are many different factors that incentivized people to move into larger settlements throughout the ages, the challenges of living closely together are manifold. They are ranging from a radically altered relationship to the environment, poor sanitary conditions and higher levels of social stress caused by crowding, to organizational challenges such as the logistics of sustaining larger populations, the negotiation of decision-making processes, as well as the experience of internal conflicts and dissent, to name just a few.
In preparation of our workshop, we will invite scholars of pre- and early modern settlements to discuss a particular set of predefined challenges, which will be provided in our upcoming call for papers. Our list aims to facilitate a cross-cultural perspective by offering a simple, yet robust tool to compare urban settlements and other densely populated sites across different periods and geographic regions (without being bogged down by the discussion of defining a city). For their individual contribution, we will ask each invited speaker to either focus on one particular settlement (respectively a group or cluster of settlements) from their field of research or a specific challenge from our list. Considering that our present is marked by an unprecedented degree of urbanization, our workshop aims to integrate a perspective on the challenges posed by the urban experience of the 21st century – the “century of cities” – and how they relate to the range of experience from our global past.
Event Manager: Kumi-Raine Kost