The Historical Reconstruction of Collective Inhabited Areas in the Translocal Networking of EU Cities | Project Outline

The Historical Reconstruction of Collective Inhabited Areas in the Translocal Networking of EU Cities
The Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation

Project Outline

The Historical Reconstruction of Collective Inhabited Areas in the Translocal Networking of EU Cities (EU TransNet Program)

OBA Shigeaki
Director of the EU TransNet Program
Professor of Geography
Graduate School of Literature and Human Sciences
Osaka City University (Japan)

In October 2012, the Urban-Culture Research Center of the Graduate School of Literature and Human Sciences, Osaka City University, successfully applied for the "Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation" funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). This three-year program will run from academic year 2012 to academic year 2014.

Research Objectives

With regard to research objectives, the EU TransNet Program scrutinizes possibilities for the reconstruction of "collective inhabited areas," or oikumene in the ancient Greek term still often used, in translocal urban networks. This research program tries to map the formation processes of European cities from the premodern to the contemporary period and, on this basis, to analyze ongoing globalization processes in cities within and around the EU region in a more precise way.

European cities have always been a major focus in the study of Western civilization and its social and economic history. However, previous research has often focused on big cities (metropolises) and their function as a driving force of regional development, while small and mid-sized cities and their social life have been discussed primarily in contrast with those urban centers. Nevertheless, from a historical standpoint, it could be argued that all these cities and their regions have continued to preserve a sense of separate identity and accumulate memories of their inhabitants' daily lives. Therefore, instead of considering the modernization or progressive developments of major cities as indexical of historical processes, this research project views urban space as a part of the society of a region the cities of which build up translocal networks, and tries to reaffirm that these cities can be fruitfully viewed primarily as living spaces undergoing historical processes and change. Eschewing a one-sided concentration on the functional relationship between major cities and their regions, this project seeks to recapture the process of the historical formation of the lives and lifeworlds of successive generations. The space where these formations take place is what is meant by the oikumene. By focusing on this space, we try to reconstruct the processes of regional integration and conflict that shape cities and their translocal networks.

Research Network

The collaborating departments and institutions implementing the project are

  1. the Department of History, Bielefeld University, one of Germany's leading centers for historical studies, and also recognized for area studies and environmental history;
  2. the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) , a major center for the study of the humanities and social sciences in France; and
  3. the Department of History and Human Cultures, the University of Bologna, a center of excellence in the study of social history at one of Italy's leading universities.

Visiting Young Researchers

We plan to support overseas visits by seven young researchers: two during the 2012 academic year, another two in 2013, and three more in 2014. In addition to conducting their own research, these young researchers will actively participate in training programs in their host countries. These may include lectures, seminars, and community programs offered by universities, research institutions, or other public organizations. These young researchers will be expected to foster a network of scholars through research exchanges or joint projects with local experts and other young colleagues. The EU TransNet Program Executive Committee will conduct the selection process for participants in the program.

International Seminars

As part of the EU TransNet Program, we will hold joint international seminars in Japan and each partner country, as well as additional individual seminars in Japan. These seminars will be conducted in cooperation with our partner research institutes, and will provide our young researchers with valuable learning and opportunities to conduct research. The young researchers will develop cultural sensitivity and gather valuable knowledge and experience during their lives abroad, and will also actively participate in the seminars.