Call for papers - Graffiti through the Ages

25 September 2015

The Amsterdam Centre for Urban History (ACUH) organizes the conference "Fleeting Testimonies of Urban Life: Graffiti and Other Transient Writings from Antiquity to the Present" on 14-15 January 2016.

We are inviting proposals for papers (20 minutes in length). If you would like to participate, please submit an abstract (max. 300 words) and title by 7 October 2015 to the organizers, Maartje van Gelder ( and Lucinda Dirven (

Fleeting Testimonies of Urban Life
Graffiti and Other Transient Writings from Antiquity to the Present

Conference aims and objectives

In cities all over the world and through the ages, we find temporary signs in a wide array of public places and on objects, such as outer and inner walls of buildings, monuments, ceramics, rocks and trees. Even human bodies and clothing may be the carrier of such ephemeral but public messages. Until recently, such signs were largely ignored by historians, who traditionally focus on official, more enduring texts and images. This conference organised by the Amsterdam Centre of Urban History, sets out to explore the potential of graffiti and other transient writings for the reconstruction of urban history. Who were the authors and who the viewers? In what respect are these underused sources different from more traditional ones? What new perspectives do they offer for the agency of, and communication between, different groups of the urban population?