Biographies of Place

1st Conceptual Conference of Centre for Urban Network Evolutions

Date Monday 18 January - Wednesday 20 January 2016
Time 14:00-16:15
Location Aarhus University Conference Centre, Frederik Nielsens Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C, Meeting room 1


The innovations, cultural entanglements and environmental exchanges afforded by urbanism paved the way for social and material complexity, which forms the core of today’s civilisation. The complex stratigraphies of urban archaeology form a uniquely rich archive of this process. Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) develops research that offers comparison of convergent developments and determines how, and to what extent, past urban networks catalysed societal and environmental expansions and crises, potentially on a global scale.

Biographies of place is the first of three conceptual conferences, and ensuing thematic publications, aimed to inspire and challenge the theoretical and methodological development of concepts and models which informs the work of the centre. The conference aims to explore how the combination of multiple methods and approaches contributes to characterise the biographies of urban sites and “circulation societies” (Aslanian 2012, 13f). Biographies comprise people but can be conceptualised more broadly as a gathering of people, things and spaces (Latour 2005).

Traditional archaeological approaches to urban archaeology have been limited by a ”feature first” approach, in which evidence is separated and analysed according to material classes and only re-integrated at a highly generalised level of interpretation. By exploring a “context first” approach, in which a multidimensional interpretation of individual contexts forms the point of departure for integrated “biographies” of urban sites and groups, UrbNet will stimulate a new approach to urban archaeology.

Emerging applications of isotopic, biomolecular and geoarchaeological techniques afford unique potential for archaeology to refine the precision of dates, contexts and provenance ascribed to excavated materials. UrbNet aims to integrate scientific techniques with contextual archaeological and historical approaches to form a “High Definition” view of urban dynamics. The present conference shall explore how new forms of data can be harnessed to test, challenge and revise narratives of particular urban sites and fundamental assumptions about trajectories, dynamics and causal conditions of urbanisation in the era of globally interlocking, pre-industrial civilizations, here defined as the periodapp. between the 2nd century BCE and the 16th century CE. Furthermore the conference will also explore concepts of urbanism and themes relating to urbanism in a historiographical perspective which will inform us about which ways scholarship has been shaped by directions in research.

The conference will take place at Aarhus University, Denmark. It will begin 18 January in the afternoon and end in the evening of 20 January. All travel costs (second class) and accommodation will be covered by a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation, which funds the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions.

Confirmed speakers

  • Professor Achim Lichtenberger, Ruhr-Universität Bochum & Professor Rubina Raja, UrbNet, Aarhus University
  • PhD student Barbora Wouters, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
  • Professor Dries Tys, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
  • Researcher Eivind Heldaas Seland, University of Bergen
  • Associate professor Johan Linderholm, Umeå University
  • Professor Jörg Rüpke, University of Erfurt
  • Senior lecturer, Karen Milek, University of Aberdeen
  • Dr. Mateusz Bogucki, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Assistant professor Michael Blömer, UrbNet, Aarhus University
  • Professor Michael Smith, Arizona State University
  • Professor Paul Sinclair, Uppsala University
  • Professor Sauro Gelichi, Ca' Foscari University of Venice
  • Associate professor Søren M. Kristiansen, UrbNet, Aarhus University
  • Professor Søren M. Sindbæk, UrbNet, Aarhus University
  • Dr. Sven Kalmring, Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology
  • Dr. Volker Hilberg, Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen

Practical information for speakers

Please make your own travel arrangements to/from Aarhus. After your visit, UrbNet will reimburse you (only economy class). We would greatly appreciate it if you would book your tickets early, in order to get a reasonably priced flight. Once you have booked your flight, please forward your arrival and departure times to Christina Levisen.

After your stay, please return scanned copies of your receipts and tickets, along with this reimbursement form (preferably as an Excel file) – only fill out the upper half of the form (until and including ‘Expenses’). 

We have organised accommodation 18-20 January at Hotel Comwell. If you need an extra night in Aarhus due to your travelling schedule, please let Christina Levisen know as soon as possible.

Hotel Comwell
Værkmestergade 2
8000 Aarhus C
Phone: +45 8672 8000
See map

The hotel is located just a couple of hundred metres from the railway station. If you are arriving to Tirstrup Airport, take the airport bus (there is one for each arrival) to Aarhus and get off at the railway station (‘Banegårdspladsen’). This map shows you how to get from the railway station to the hotel; the easiest thing is actually to walk through the railway station and the attached shopping centre (Bruuns Galleri): straight through the railway station, into the shopping centre, turn left (at Sunset Boulevard) and walk out a swing door and down a flight of stairs and then follow the rest of the map.

Transport to conference venue
To get to the AU Conference Centre, you can catch Bus 100, 117, 118, 200 from the bus terminal (directions from hotel), or you can backtrack your way from the railway station and take Bus 1A, 14 or 18 (14 and 18 leave from Park Allé). Get off at Aarhus Universitet, Randersvej/Nordre Ringgade (right at the Nobel Park). Cross Randersvej (the one leading to downtown Aarhus), walk 200 m, turn right into a cul de sac, and you are at the AU Conference Centre.

Dinner and diet
UrbNet will organise conference dinners 18 January and 19 January, and of course, we will cater for you during the event. If you have any dietary restrictions (e.g. allergies), please let Christina Levisen know.

Title/abstract and powerpoint
Please send your title and abstract by Monday 14 December 2015. If you wish to use powerpoint, the projector at the conference venue supports the formats 4:3, 15:9, 16:9 and 16:10. Please forward your slides no later than Friday 15 January 2016.