New Metropolitan Perspectives

One needs a town. Studies and perspectives for abandoned or depopulated small towns

Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria

November 7, 2019 – November 9, 2019

IMPORTANT: the submission deadline has been extended until 9 April 2018


One needs a town, if only for the pleasure of leaving it.
A town means not being alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the soil,
there is something of yourself, that even when you're not there it stays and waits for you.

Cesare Pavese, The moon and the bonfires (1950)


The conference aims at analysing the effects of processes of abandonment on the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of European small towns and at identifying possible strategies for their social and economic re-launch.

Today, in some countries, including Italy, the phenomenon of depopulation is dramatic: notwithstanding the recent increase of interest towards cultural heritage and attention to social and environmental problems related to big urban areas, in reality, many small towns and villages continue to lose inhabitants.

The history of European small towns, often located in peripheral, internal or mountain areas, almost always concerns people moving away, abandonments and, only rarely, people coming back. Migrations, falling birth rates, natural catastrophes, epidemics, wars, climate change, new road systems, cultural and social transformations: these are only a few of the numerous factors which, over the time - singularly or jointly, suddenly or gradually -, have led people to leave their places of origin.

In this perspective, the conference intends to be a moment of in-depth analysis on the reasons that caused, and continue to cause, the depopulation of villages and small towns.

The conference intends also to investigate the effects – permanent or reversible – which those processes have produced on the landscape and in the local communities. In losing inhabitants, in fact, local communities risk losing their cultural identity, architectural heritage deteriorates rapidly, working activities are abandoned and ancient traditions risk being forgotten. In addition, hydro geological instability often relevant increases due to the absence of land maintenance and, simultaneously, urban congestion grows unsustainably.

Moreover, the conference intends to launch a wide discussion on possible strategies aimed at contrasting depopulation phenomena and identifying solutions in order to valorise abandoned small towns.

The conference will have a transdisciplinary approach through which the disciplines that traditionally study the processes of transformation of architectural heritage and landscape – such as restoration, history of architecture, urban history – may productively work with the support of different fields, such as sociology, anthropology, history of economy, urban and territorial geography.

Call for papers

Submission online

Registration Fees




Deadline extended


IMPORTANT: the submission deadline has been extended until 9 April 2018

Posted: 2018-03-22
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