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Revisiting space and emotion: New ways to study buildings and feelings


In her 2014 History Compass article, Margrit Pernau issued a call for scholars to consider entanglements between history of emotion methodologies and space. She argued that ‘bodies are necessarily situated in space, and they bear the imprint of the spaces they are moving through and have moved through.’ Nine years after the publication of Pernau's article, this study engages with developments in the field of history of emotions to posit that emotional methodologies provide important opportunities for scholars of the urban built environment, adding additional lenses that can help to push the boundaries of urban history. Extending Pernau's thesis by borrowing theoretical and methodological muscle from affect theory and the combined field of slavery and gender studies, via the concepts of atmospheres, reconstruction, and critical fabulation, this article explores new avenues for research that aims to understand and analyse marginalised groups in urban history. The explorative analysis is tested on a macroanalysis of social processes among the Irish diaspora in nineteenth century Melbourne and Chicago and a microhistorical study of a Pietist orphanage in nineteenth century Stockholm and thus showcases the possibility of the approach to go beyond spatial-emotional management and reach contradictory and alternative strategies and experiences.


Maja Hultman and Sophie Cooper. 2023. Revisiting space and emotion: New ways to study buildings and feelings, History Compass 21/5: e12764. DOI: 10.1111/hic3.12764

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