The Dynamic City: Futures for the Past

25 & 26 March 2016

Boston University

Are preservation, diversity, and affordability mutually exclusive in urban America? How can neighborhood identity and community be preserved while engaging with the opportunities of globalization? What should be saved in attempts to build and maintain a fair and equitable city?  This conference will explore such questions through conversations that bridge the divide between study and praxis in design, sustainability and preservation.  The American and New England Studies Program at Boston University is committed to collaborative scholarship and encourages graduate students in all fields to submit proposals for twenty-minute presentations.  We seek papers that follow an interdisciplinary framework through history, preservation studies, environmental studies, economics, sociology, art and architectural history, visual culture, material culture, ethnic studies, gender studies, literature, film, and other disciplines. Select papers will be published in an edited anthology.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Urban architectural and design history
  • Preservation and environmental sustainability
  • Gentrification and social sustainability
  • Affordable Housing and housing affordability
  • Neighborhoods and place making
  • Urban planning and political authority
  • Cities as biological systems –  foodways, transportation, waste, energy
  • Stasis versus development in the preserved landscape
  • Public and private interest groups
  • Activism and revolt – “NIMBYism”
  • The opportunities and challenges of abandonment of people and places
  • The rise of post-industrial urban economies
  • Gateway cities – doomed to failure or the bright future?
  • The politics and legislation of preservation and urban renewal
  • Race and gender politics in the urban space
  • Urban museums performing the role of historians
  • Public space and public memory
  • Heritage Tourism
  • The immigrant and ethnic landscape

Panels will include presentations from both graduate students and practitioners (architects developers, planners, and public officials) to situate historical narratives within the project of planning and development.

Submission Guidelines

A successful proposal will identify its sources and methodology and will be analytic rather than descriptive.


  • October 15th, 2015 – Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a CV to: P. J. Carlino
  • January 1st, 2016 – A full paper draft.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by November 15th, 2015.

This event is sponsored by the Graduate Student Association of the American and New England Studies Program,  the Preservation Studies Program at Boston University, the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University, the Boston University Center for the Humanities, Historic New England and the Boston University Initiative on Cities.