Submission deadline:

January 31, 2024

Real Estate Agency: Land, Housing and Finance in Urban and Planning History

July 11-13, 2024

In the cities of Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, real estate seems to be almost a second nature. It is a pervasive fact in daily life, structuring the economy and the environment. Wealth is tied up in it, our planning systems serve it, and our culture obsesses over how to obtain and improve it. But real estate has no independent history or power in itself. Its role in the history of our cities and settlements depends on a whole range of human and non-human agents: individuals who buy, sell and invest in real estate; states that enable and regulate it; corporations that finance its purchase and provide its insurance. Understanding the history of our cities through the lens of real estate depends, therefore, on grasping the ways in which these agents have organised our environment to privilege and serve the interest of real estate.

Key books on Australian cities such as Cannon’s The Land Boomers (1966), Sandercock’s Cities for Sale (1975), Davison’s The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne (1978), and Daly’s Sydney Boom and Sydney Bust (1982) put real estate at the centre of the story of urban development. More recently, scholars across a range of fields including architectural history, human geography, planning and law have reanimated the discussion around land, planning and real estate by asking probing questions about what taking possession of property really means, especially for First Nations people for whom it often means dispossession. This conference provides an opportunity to build on that work and carefully consider the range of implications that real estate has for research in, and perspectives on, urban and planning history.

The 17th meeting of the Urban History/Planning History Group invites papers on all aspects of urban and planning history in Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and the wider Pacific region. As always, this forum welcomes contributions that explore among other things –

i) the history of planning, design and regulation of public spaces, infrastructure, and private development;

ii) papers on planners, urban designers and architects involved in the city-making process in any period;

iii) work on the historiography of cities as well as new work on the history of social groups and how they adapted to and reshaped urban environments

iv) research on the historical evolution of urban policy focused on heritage, the natural environment, and industry.

The 2024 conference differs somewhat to most previous UHPH meetings in that it is built around three streams: 1) Possession and Dispossession; 2) Housing Histories; and 3) FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate). We especially welcome submissions that connect with one of these specified conference streams. Please see stream descriptions below.

Conference Streams

1. Possession and Dispossession

Stream Convenors: Andrew Leach (USyd) Amelia Thorpe (UNSW) and Dallas Rogers (USyd)

2. Housing Histories

Stream Convenors: Stephen Pascoe (UNSW), Fiona Gatt (Deakin) and Rachel Goldlust (Latrobe)

3. FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate)

Stream Convenors: Maren Koehler (USyd) and Jasper Ludewig (Newcastle)

Abstract Guidelines:

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be submitted as a word or pdf document via email to:

Please ensure your email includes a version of the abstract with author details and one anonymised for blind peer review.

More information and the full call details can be found here.

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