As Enlightenment notions of predictability, progress and the sense that humans could control and shape their environments informed European thought, catastrophes shook many towns to the core, challenging the new world view with dramatic impact. This book concentrates on a period marked by passage from a society of scarcity to one of expenditure and accumulation, from ranks and orders to greater social mobility, from traditional village life to new bourgeois and even individualistic urbanism. The volume employs a broad definition of catastrophe, as it examines how urban communities conceived, adapted to, and were transformed by catastrophes, both natural and human-made. Competing views of gender figure in the telling and retelling of these analyses: women as scapegoats, as vulnerable, as victims, even as cannibals or conversely as defenders, organizers of assistance, inspirers of men; and men in varied guises as protectors, governors and police, heroes, leaders, negotiators and honorable men. Gender is also deployed linguistically to feminize activities or even countries. Inevitably, however, these tragedies are mediated by myth and memory. They are not neutral events whose retelling is a simple narrative. Through a varied array of urban catastrophes, this book is a nuanced account that physically and metaphorically maps men and women into the urban landscape and the worlds of catastrophe.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Catastrophe, Gender and Urban Experience
[Deborah Simonton and Hannu Salmi]
Part 1: Catastrophe in the Age of Enlightenment and Absolutism
2. Surviving the Siege: Catastrophe, Gender and Memory in La Rochelle
3. Between Despair And Hope: The 1755 Earthquake In Lisbon
4. Drowned in Westminster: A Social Catastrophe in a West London Suburb, 1550-1650
[Imtiaz Habib and Michan Myer]
5. The Plague and the Urban Police in Montpellier at the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century
6. Catastrophe, the Civilizing Process and the Urban Built Environment in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World
Part 2: Catastrophe in the Age of Democracy
7. Catastrophe, Emotions and Guilt : The Great Fire of Turku, 1827
8. Personal Catastrophe, Communal Misfortune: Bankruptcy in an Eighteenth-Century Merchant Family
9. City Upside Down: Laughing at the Flooding of the Danube in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna
10. The Baltic Storm Surge in November 1872: Urban Processes, Gendered Vulnerability and Scientific Transformations
[Rasmus Dahlberg, Kristoffer Albris and Martin Jebens]
11. Managing the Catastrophe: Cholera, Urban Community and Health Politics in Imperial Moscow
12. One Disaster After Another: The Debate about the University of Ghent as Unfinished Business of the First World War, 1918-1923
[David J. Hensley]
Guide to Further Reading
Deborah Simonton is Associate Professor of British History at the University of Southern Denmark.
Hannu Salmi is Professor of Cultural History at the University of Turku.