Public history

CfP - From Boom to Bust: the History of Industrial Regions (1870-1970 and beyond)

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Steel industry Esch-sur-Alzette

Source: Archives Esch-sur-Alzette

International Conference on 9-10 June 2022 at the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) in Esch-Belval.

The Minett, the industrial region in the South of Luxembourg, has been shaped over the course of the past 150 years by the emergence of a modern iron and steel industry between 1870 and the First World War. The region and its inhabitants were profoundly shaped by the mutation of landscapes through mining and industrial activities, the rapid growth of the population, the work migration from neighbouring and other European countries, the urbanisation of towns, the shortage of appropriate housing, and other developments. The political and economic turmoil of the two world wars and the interwar period, as well as the subsequent foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community did not only affect the economic development but also the everyday lives of men and women, young and old, miners and shop keepers, local inhabitants and migrants. During boom cycles, the industry attracted workers and brought prosperity to many; during economic crisis, the industry dismissed workers and migrants. The decline of mining activities since the 1960s, and the steel crisis of the 1970s announced another transformation of the region. As mines and steel works closed, jobs were lost and with them a part of the region’s collective identity. This storyline is, of course, simplified, but it could be told in a similar way for many regions in Europe and other parts of the world. The cycles of boom and bust differed sometimes, and the development of regions that depended on the iron and steel industry differed from regions that were shaped by other industries.

The organisers of this conference work in the “Remixing Industrial Pasts in the Digital Age” project that is funded by the European Capital of Culture Esch2022. We are interested in the history of regions that went through continuous transformations from industrialisation to de- and post-industrialisation. Although our focus is on iron or mining, on the steel industry and, in particular, on the inhabitants of the Minett and their daily lives, we are looking for contributions on comparable regions from Europe and beyond. Our rough timeframe is 1870s to 1970s but we also invite contributions that deal with de- and post-industrialization past 1980.

We are looking for contributions from contemporary history, history of technology, business history, environmental history, labour history, social history and other related fields.

Some of the topics that are of interest for this conference:

  • Impact of industrialization on local and migrant communities, on everyday lives and collective identities
  • Economic developments of industrial regions
  • Migration history from migration movements within regions and countries, and between neighbouring and more distant countries
  • The housing and living conditions in industrial regions
  • The shaping, re-shaping and contestation of identities between industrialization to de-industrialization
  • The transformation of “natural” landscapes and the creation of industrial landscapes
  • The history of industrial pollution

Travel and accommodation costs of invited participants will be covered by the C²DH.

Please send proposals (350 words max.) and a brief biographical statement to before 10 April 2022.