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

by Richard Bell, Joe Harley and Charmian Mansell (conference organisers)

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 by 21st May
. Some travel grants will be available for postgraduate and early career researchers and will be announced closer to the conference.

“Ordering the Margins of Society” will take place on Tuesday 5th September 2017, at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London

Prof. Andy Wood (Durham) has been confirmed as keynote speaker

Past & Present logo, 2017 all rights reserved

Past & Present logo, 2017 all rights reserved

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