This special section of Urban History explores the spatial histories of urban house numbering and the calculative rationalities of government since the Enlightenment. More than a mere footnote to the history of postal communications, the house number was first introduced as an inscriptive device to serve a wide range of governmental purposes, from military conscription and the quartering of soldiers to census-taking and the policing of urban populations. The spatial practice of house numbering can therefore be seen as a ‘political technology’ that was developed to reorganize urban space according to the dictates of numerical calculation. The articles in this special section examine the historical emergence of house numbering, and related practices, in different geographical circumstances, illustrating the spatial strategies of governmentality and the tactics of resistance that shaped the spatial organization of the modern city.
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