Company Towns Beyond Borders, ACHS 2018 (September 1-6, 2018, Hangzhou, China)

Jessica Mace's picture
Call for Papers
November 30, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Historic Preservation, Urban History / Studies

Association of Critical Heritage Studies, 4th Biannual Conference

September 1–6, 2018

Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Session 052: Company Towns Beyond Borders

Session chairs: Lucie K. Morisset : and Jessica Mace :


The history and territory of numerous countries are sprinkled with company towns: born of national or multinational companies, they conquered resources and pushed frontiers. Built to accommodate and house the workers of a company, around a mill, mine or factory, they also served to sedentarize the workforce, often by attracting entire families from a distance, and by creating a sense of belonging within these very same communities. In so doing, they often transposed models and ideas from elsewhere, through the experience and mobility of engineers, manufacturers, businessmen, planners and workers from other company towns or industries. With heterogeneous populations and extremely varied provenances, these planned and frontier-conquering industrial cities belong just as much to transnational networks as to the countries in which they stimulated development.

If this cross-border identity itself, throughout history, has contributed to the creation of stronger internal social links within the communities of company towns, it does not represent any less of a challenge with respect to the conservation and transmission of heritage. In fact, as a number of authors linked to current critical heritage studies have shown, the notion, politics and practices of monumental heritage are traditionally constituted according to a national heritage and orchestrated by the state or regional authorities under homogeneous criteria on the scale of the territory: diversity, minorities and cross-border issues remain epiphenomena. In a certain way, the heritage of company towns corresponds more precisely with the notion and uses of world heritage than those of recognized world heritage itself. Just as they reinvented the production of territory, company towns also question our heritage conceptions and practices, because they are not just the territory that they occupy, because their memory is not just of their own country, but also because they exceed the borders of our habits.

This session seeks to examine the ways in which company towns have taught us and continue to teach us to reinvent the borders of identity and of heritage. We are particularly looking for presentations that use the example of a company town or a corpus of company towns anywhere in the world, that question the cross-border circulation of models, ideas or people that engendered a specific identity, and/or the ways in which this territorial distinction questions the creation of heritage today, in generating (or not) renewed practices and conceptions of heritage.


Please submit your abstracts to the following email address:

Your abstract should be submitted by Thursday, November 30, 2017in the following format. (Please note that abstracts that do not adhere to the format will be rejected).

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Place of employment/study
  • A brief resume (biographical notice and main publications or achievements) of no more than 300 words
  • Type of proposal: Paper proposal for a standard 20-minute paper
  • The number and title of the session: 052 Company Towns Beyond Borders
  • Title of your paper
  • An abstract of no more than 500 words. Abstracts should present the topic or main argument and demonstrate scientific quality through references to a theoretical framework, a methodology or by outlining the contribution to knowledge.

Submissions can be made either in English or Chinese.

Contact Info: 

Jessica Mace, Postdoctoral Fellow, in affiliation with the Canada Research Chair in Urban Heritage, Université du Québec à Montréal