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International Conference in Brazil

Aug 02, 2013

“For the benefit of the people. Public works, government and society in the colonial city (16th to 18th century)” was the title of a conference that took place in Brazil from August 7th to 10th, 2013. The conference was co-organised by PD Dr. Susan Richter (Research Area A) together with Dr. Jorun Poettering (Companhia das Índias), Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil.

At the conference, researchers discussed about the development of cities and modern citizenship in the context of colonial cities. Though it is generally agreed that cities formed one of the principal points of origin for the development of modern citizenship, this phenomenon still wants better understanding regarding colonial cities with their peculiar characteristics concerning government, society and urban design. It is against this background that interactions between infrastructural dispositions and the formation of urban communities will be analyzed at the conference. It is assumed that the colonization and urbanization policies of the mother countries followed certain norms and intentions and therefore influenced society. On the other hand inhabitants also played a major role in the formation of urban reality for example through interests of local influential people, exercising international actions of resistance or practices of daily life.

During the conference experts working on colonial cities in Portugal, Spanish America and in other parts of the world examined aspects such as colonial urbanization, practices in daily life, political theory of good government, threats, tensions, and questions on integration and exclusion through infrastructure. The conference included a talk by PD Dr. Susan Richter on “Types of political care for and in Asian colonies using the example of the water supply in the colonial cities of Macau and Batavia (today: Jakarta) in the Early Modern Era” and by Michael Roth on “Abbondanza! Grain, water and poor relief in papal Rome of the Early Modern period”.   

The conference was organised by Dr. Jorun Poettering researcher at Companhia das Índias, the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil, and PD Dr. Susan Richter on behalf of the Cluster "Asia and Europe" in Heidelberg. Companhia das Índias is a research group focused on Modern History of Brazil, Spanish America, Africa, Portuguese India, Portugal and other regions. The Universidade Federal Fluminense is a federal public university, located in the State of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Dr. Jorun Poettering is a research fellow at Universidade Federal Fluminense/Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München since 2012. PD Dr. Susan Richter is Deputy Speaker of Research Area A “Governance and Administration” at the Cluster “Asia and Europe” in Heidelberg. Her research focus is on History of Ideas, Cultural-and Political History of the early Modern period focusing in Western Europe, the Holy Empire and Non-European States in Asia.

For more information visit the conference website.


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  • The aqueduct "Arcos da Lapa" in 1800, Rio de Janeiro

  • The aqueduct today (Image source: wikimedia.org)