CfP: Urban social movements and the reinvention of cities since the 1970s

Call for papers, deadline 30 September 2023

European Association for Urban History (EAUH) Conference 2024: “Cities at the Boundaries”

University of Ostrava

4-7 September 2024

Main Session 40: Urban social movements and the reinvention of cities since the 1970s

Deadline for proposals: 30 September 2023


This session explores the entangled history of cities and social movements in the post-industrial era. It does so by studying how municipal governments and other public urban bodies responded to the demands, framings, and repertoires of a new generation of social movements, or new generations of activist in existing social movements, since the 1970s. Such a perspective will not only help us to better understand the historical relationship between urban government and social mobilization, but it will also allow us contextualize debates on contemporary city branding.

Recent studies have shown that municipalities today often draw on social movement rhetoric in efforts to reinvent and promote their city. Scholars and activists regularly criticize city administrations that take credit for advancing legislative action and public debate even when this in fact originated from social mobilization. At the same time, many cities reduce their ambitions in welfare provision to citizens, in the context of the neoliberal dismantling of welfare states. Strategies labeled as green-washing, pink-washing or brown-washing have for instance been dismissed as attempts by cities to hijack campaigns for environmental protection or racial and gender equality. By presenting themselves as environmentally friendly and socially progressive pioneers, cities have thus turned struggles for social and climate justice into a marketing tool to boost tourism as well as domestic and foreign investment. This session seeks to scrutinize this narrative.  

The objective of this session is to explore the complex and contested relationship between urban authorities on the one hand and the new social movements of the post-1970s on the other. We seek contributions that engage critically with the impact that social movements had on municipalities, how the latter responded to the movements’ claims and demands, and how they tried to ignore, co-opt or co-operate with the social movements around them. At the same time, we hope for contributions that study how the strategies by urban governments and public administration in turn influenced social movements, and how the latter were affected by processes of institutionalization and professionalization. While the temporal focus will be on, roughly, the last third of the twentieth century, there are no geographical restriction. Papers on non-Western cases are particularly welcome.

All paper proposals (max. 300 words) must be submitted by 30 September 2023. Please follow the guidelines for paper submission published on the EAUH website ( Submissions should include a short bio. Please mark the paper for Session M40. This session is co-organized by Pål Brunnström (, Mikkel Thelle ( and Philipp Reick (