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Conférence : "Food, Rules and the City : Food market regulations and their social and political dynamics (15th-20th)"

Publié le 20 octobre 2023 Mis à jour le 9 novembre 2023


Urban life has always been intrinsically tied to the city’s market for food. With today’s ever- increasing urban populations and unseen climatic and agricultural challenges, the significance of studying food markets has come even more to the fore. Understood both in the physical and abstract sense, food markets have been central to the main urban concerns, like ensuring food supply, providing revenues, or preserving social order. Because of this importance, food markets crystallised multiple key stakes for authorities, producers, consumers, and other urban actors, making their regulation a strategic issue. It is therefore not surprising that from the first medieval written texts to modern legislations, a huge body of regulative measures has been produced to supervise them. Although the societal, technological, economic and regulatory context shifted throughout the centuries, the actors’ need and desire to retain control over urban food markets remained unchanged.

The historiography on European urban food markets has stressed their structural importance for urban economies and has revealed how they were shaped by the interests of the actors rather than by self-regulating mechanisms. However, research has predominantly been constrained to classical chronological boundaries and has failed to consider the persisting need for regulation on food markets from a diachronic perspective, which would allow a more extensive view of continuity and change in this vital aspect of urban life.

Seeking to adopt such a long-term perspective and to explore more fully than before the social and political dynamics underlying these regulations, this conference will bring together recent research into motivations, reasoning and strategies applied by economic actors in the making of food market regulations in European cities from the 15th to the 20th century. Through its wide chronological and geographical scope, the conference seeks to confront different methodologies to study the ever-present matter of food market regulation as well as different approaches of various historical actors, institutions, and contexts in handling enduring concerns.

Organising Committee

Robin Rose Southard (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Dennis De Vriese (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Nicolas Brunmayr (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
prof. dr. Alexis Wilkin (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
prof. dr. Wouter Ryckbosch (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
prof. dr. Nicolas Schroeder (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
prof. dr. Philippe Raxhon (Université de Liège)
dr. Chloé Deligne (FNRS and ULB)

Du 16 novembre 2023 au 17 novembre 2023
Bruxelles, Campus du Solbosch, Campus de la Plaine

ULB & VUB - Bruxelles