Retail Spaces and Shopping Experiences in the European City

Oakland, CA
German Studies Association Conference
07.10.2010 - 10.10.2010
Jan Logemann

CFP: Retail Spaces and Shopping Experiences in the “European City”

Panel at the German Studies Association Conference, Oakland, Ca, October 7-10, 2010.

The current crisis of large urban department stores such as Karstadt has brought into focus the importance of shopping venues for conceptions of urban space in the twentieth century. Beyond their commercial role, retail stores have been central to cityscapes and the urban public sphere. The recent attention afforded to inner-city department stores dovetails with a broader “spatial turn” in the history of consumption and consumer studies: shops, shopping streets and shopping centers have begun to be contextualized within a broader urban history.

This panel seeks to explore the economic and social roles of inner-city and neighborhood retailers within a broader framework of what can be called urban identity formation. What meaning did shopping and retail spaces take on for different types of urban communities since the end of the nineteenth century? Next to the layout and design of shopping spaces, the experience of these spaces by consumers is of particular interest here and raises questions of consumer agency. To what degree were retail spaces “co-created” through the everyday practices of shoppers themselves? What role did shopping experiences (or memories of such experiences) play in discursively constructing idealized conceptions of the city in the modern era?

While the focus of the panel will be on examples from German-speaking countries, a contextualization of the German case within a European framework is an explicit goal of the panel. This will provide a chance to critically probe aspects of the “European city” as an ideal-type (set e.g. against the “American” city with its suburban strip-malls and abandoned main streets) which has recently enjoyed much scholarly attention. Comparative or transnational approaches are particularly welcome.

For this panel we invite paper proposals on the following (or related) topics:
- Experience of shopping spaces and everyday practices of shopping across the twentieth century
- Shopping spaces in art, literature and popular memory
- Retail planning and urban development since World War I
- Retailers and shoppers in municipal politics

Please send title and abstract of your proposed paper (200 words) along with a current CV to Jan Logemann ( by February 5, 2010.


Jan Logeman

German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.

Retail Spaces and Shopping Experiences in the European City, 07.10.2010 – 10.10.2010 Oakland, CA, in: H-Soz-Kult, 10.01.2010, <>.