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Performing towns. Steps towards an understanding of medieval urban communities as social practice

  • Axel Christophersen
Abstract

Urban archaeology in Scandinavia has long been dominated by a processual understanding of medieval urban development. The author proposes that the concept of urbanity in the sense of ‘urban living’ should replace the processual and functionalist-oriented concept of ‘urbanization’, and that instead focus should be directed towards social processes, practices and materiality. He perceives the emergence of urbanity in the Middle Ages in the light of the formation of specific urban patterns of practice that can be analysed with the aid of theoretical tools from recent social-practice theory. Against this background, the potential of recent social-practice theory is examined as a possible analytical tool in an urban archaeological approach to medieval urban communities. Through concepts such as interaction, event, leakage and creativity, the medieval urban landscape can be reformulated as a dynamic social space in which diverse everyday routines were intertwined in patterns, bundles and complexes.

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Corresponding author
*Axel Christophersen, Historical Archaeology, Section for Archaeology and Cultural History, University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. E-mail: axel.christophersen@vm.ntnu.no.
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Archaeological Dialogues
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