Urban History

Review Essay

A decade of urban history: Ashgate's Historical Urban Studies series

BARRY M. DOYLEa1

a1 School of Music, Humanities and Media, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH

The first half of the 1990s was a pivotal period in the development and growth of urban history in Europe. In Britain the Urban History Group began to convene again after a decade in abeyance, work commenced on the three-volume Cambridge Urban History of Britain, the Urban History Yearbook became Urban History whilst the European Association of Urban Historians organized their first conference. It was in this climate that Ashgate Publishing commissioned a new monograph series, Historical Urban Studies, under the editorship of Richard Rodger, editor of Urban History, and Jean-Luc Pinol, the leading French urban historian and a key figure in the European Association of Urban Historians (EAUH). The aim of the series was and is to be comparative over both time and space, drawing on multiple locations to explore what is common and what distinctive about the urban experience of diverse towns and nations. The broad agenda for the series was shaped by an overarching concern with the administration and governance of the city which underpinned attempts to manage the social, economic and political challenges wrought by 300 years of urban change. In particular, the editors stress the importance of the comparative element which should allow historians to distinguish ‘which were systematic factors and which were of a purely local nature’. The editors set themselves an ambitious agenda and this essay aims to explore how the series has developed over the ten or so years since it commenced publication; the degree to which it has provided a platform for advancing the sub-discipline of urban history; and to consider some future directions which urban history might take.