I’ve gotten settled back in after returning from the Urban History Association meeting in Philadelphia. The theme for this year’s meeting was Metropolitics, a matter near and dear to me, and a theme that I’m excited to see becoming central to the craft of what urban historians Building on early urban histories of political development and infrastructure, a second wave of urban social history, a new wave of urban histories exploring the “urban crisis,” and the explosion of suburban history, many of the talks I saw (and, arguably, one that I gave!) represented efforts at thinking through the connections between cities, suburbs, and hinterlands at multiple spatial scales and in the registers of migration, electoral politics, the environment, and social activism. It was a great meeting all around, and definitely the most blogged and tweeted UHA yet.
One other exciting thing about this meeting? The number of papers on Atlanta. As the Tropics of Meta crew notes here, tax revolts, public housing, and transportation in the ATL came in for analysis, in ways that linked institutional changes and political activism in interesting ways. I might smell an Atlanta panel for the 2016 Organization of American Historians meeting on “Leadership”–let’s put that topic in its (urban and metropolitan) place!
I’d recommend the rest of the writeups on Tropics of Meta’s Academics In the Wild for anyone interested in a serious (but witty) recap. If you’re not down with UHA, maybe the academic TMZ will be stalking your next meeting to observe what happens when they let us out of our offices, classrooms, and archives. And the UHA’s The City in History blog has come on strong to consistently deliver some great writing from urban and metro historians connecting historical processes to current urban problems (in ways that the professional field sometimes fails to encourage) and pulling back the curtain on the craft of research. Their coverage of the meeting is here.
The next UHA is in Chicago in 2016.