Monday, February 8, 2016

PANEL SEARCH (UHA '16): Citizens Working out the Urban Future

Urban History Association 2016 Conference

Chicago, IL
October 13-16, 2016

We’re seeking two panelists for a session on citizen engagement in planning and re-imagining the city at UHA 2016. Our papers look at citizen-led attempts to promote new visions of two Canadian cities—Montréal and Toronto—in the 1960s and 1970s. Both were rooted in a period of change in municipal politics; both were influential at the level of ideas but experienced significant obstacles to implementation.
In keeping with the conference theme of “the working urban,” the panel will explore these and other examples of citizens working out alternative urban futures. What other historical contexts have been receptive to citizen-led urbanisms? What visions of the city have been promoted in the name of participatory democracy, and what has their relation been to government and urban expertise? What strategies—appeals to rights, personal influence, creation of new mechanisms of consultation— have citizens used to promote their visions of the urban future?
Valérie Poirier (Université du Québec à Montréal) will present a paper examining the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Montreal, set up at the instigation of the heritage group Save Montreal in 1976-1977. 
Daniel Ross (York University) will present on Toronto’s citizen-led Central Area Plan (1976) and the larger debates over development and the future of downtown that gave rise to it.
To encourage a comparative discussion we welcome papers dealing with other time periods and regions. Also happy to discuss joining or merging with another panel on a similar topic. Please submit abstracts to Daniel Ross ( and Valérie Poirier ( by February 15th (sooner if possible!).

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