Call for Papers

Meaning, Memory, and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces

The process of stopping and looking back at the past through new methodological lenses over the last half-century has comprised a series of fruitful cross-disciplinary ‘turns’. These retrospective global movements have provided academia with innovative ways of shedding light on past civilisations through a shared analytical model that prioritises a specific focus. During the second half of the twentieth century the ‘turn to space’ found its roots in erudite thinkers such as Foucault  and Lefebvre who positioned space as a critical analytical tool for understanding social existence in the areas of geography, urban planning, and architecture. In recent years, this framework has found cadence throughout the social sciences and humanities and has transitioned from being an experimental, innovative, sometimes controversial tool, to a necessary critical model for studies of the past. The intention of our conference is to (re)turn again to space and to stimulate fresh conversations across temporal and cultural disciplinary boundaries through collective spatial analysis. To help introduce and expand these themes we are pleased to announce that Professor Diana Spencer from the University of Birmingham and Dr. Hanna Vorholt from the University of York will feature as our keynote speakers. Professor Spencer’s work on the portrayal of self in Roman spatial narratives is complemented by Dr. Vorholt’s analysis of Western architectural and material representations of Jerusalem. Together, they embody a core tenet of the conference’s mission statement: interdisciplinary dialogue towards cross-temporal discourse.

Our tripartite conference name encapsulates the broad and valuable facets of recent approaches to the study of space: spaces contain, facilitate, and organise meaning for societies,  they perpetuate, (re)construct, and direct memory, and movement through and around space underpins these processes. Furthermore, the obvious opportunity for overlapping angles and approaches is indicative of the fluidity of these multifaceted constructs and the incongruity of a ‘correct’ interpretation of space.

We believe in juxtaposing approaches and perspectives from different temporal, cultural, and geographical contexts in order to elicit cross-disciplinary dissemination, networking, and productivity. Therefore, we envisage grouping together temporally divergent papers into a number of focussed thematic panels. We hope to support a productive interdisciplinary environment that will enable researchers to, on the one hand, look retrospectively at their research in a new light, and on the other, to consider innovative approaches to their future research avenues. We invite abstracts for papers on an intentionally broad range of themes:


– Spaces of cultural memory: how do spaces contain and perpetuate memories, develop self and collective conceptions of culture, and shape identities?
– Organising space: how are spatial borders articulated? How are they internally ordered? How are spaces framed, deframed and reframed? What are the intended and unintended consequences of spatial organisation?
– Liminal spaces: from geographical and cultural borders to micro level entrances and exits of certain sites and sights.
– Spatial taxonomy and typology: how do we define space – political, religious, private, public, etc.?
– Gendered spaces: how does gender operate and develop within space(s)?
– Representation of spaces: comparing and contrasting between literary, visual, material and archaeological media.
– Movement and space: space and time, processional movement, traversing, lustrating, purifying, sanctifying, navigating, entering and leaving. How does movement generate space?

This conference is aimed at PGRS and ECRS, and we invite proposals from such researchers. Proposals should be submitted as an abstract of no more than 300 words and should be accompanied by a short bio (no more than 100 words) indicating the speaker’s current position, location, and research interests. These should be sent to a.m.spacesconference@gmail.com by the 16th August 2019. Our team will evaluate proposals and respond to candidates by the end of August and provide a preliminary idea of the themed panel they will be allocated to. In addition, we would be grateful if you could complete a survey to help gauge community interest in this conference. Stating interest does not commit you to attending and is not a prerequisite of registration, however it helps the organisers track the academic impact of our project. The survey can be found on the following page: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PFXNF2B. We look forward to reading your proposals and hearing about your research.