Published 22 November 2021

Urban history of the north:
choices in 400 years’ urban history

On occasion of Umeå’s 400th anniversary, we aim to organize an international urban history conference, on August 19-21 2022, on the urban history of the North. Send your call for papers no later than January 31, 2022.

Short history and the conference

In sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the Swedish Crown founded a number of small towns in its Northern regions on both sides of the Bothnian Bay (Vaasa, Umeå, Piteå, Tornio, Härnösand, Oulu, Uusikaarlepyy, and Sundsvall). The history of these towns is marked by a number of distinct functions within the Crown’s realm as well as local developments. Whereas the Crown has tried to stimulate and regulate urban life, in particular with an interest in the towns’ economic and administrative functions. Local choices and developments have given rise to conflicts and cooperation be-tween the towns.

The conference aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the choices made, both locally and centrally. Most of these towns remained small well into the nineteenth cen-tury, before they were turned into modern industrialized cities, to-day most often harboring institutions of higher education. The conference also aims to research the idea of a particular Northern town, shaped by its geography and climate.

Call for papers

We welcome papers that compare the history of different cities in this Northern/Arctic region.

  • In what ways have these cities con-tributed to the development of democracy, regional economy and local culture?
  • What conflicts have arisen between the cities, where did cooperation start and take place?

The ambition is to combine perspectives from different subjects (e.g. economic history, ethnol-ogy, history, cultural geography, regional studies, literary and lin-guistic science, sociology and political science) with experiences from practitioners (engineers, cultural workers and planners).

If you are interested in participating, please send a draft of your presentation with a title and short description (max. 300 words) to The Institute of Urban History.

Contact The Institute of Urban History


  • Heiko Droste