Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, Widener University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Arizona State University
Engineering Nature: Public Greenspaces in Nineteenth-Century Paris

My dissertation examines the social, cultural, political and environmental aspects of public greenspaces within Paris during the nineteenth century. This project will consider the unique relationship between the city, its residents, and the public parks demonstrating connections and contradictions. It will broaden the study of the mid-century urban development and infuse it with considerations of the cultural impact and aesthetic sensibility of natural spaces, as well as a sense of how nature, or constructed nature, in the urban milieu affected the understanding and daily use of city space. Moreover, what I plan as a careful and focused study of the creation and use of Parisian greenspace under Napoleon III, Haussmann, and their lead designer-engineer for parks, Adolphe Alphand, will contribute to a more nuanced, although non-apologetic, history of the Second Empire, pointing out continuities with preceding and subsequent regimes. The implications of the alterations to the Parisian cityscape century reach far beyond the particular world of the Second Empire capital. Our understanding of the place of greenspace within the urban environment is particularly pertinent both historically and at present when for the first time in history more people on earth live in cities rather than rural areas, ai1d as megalopolises such as Istanbul and Shanghai today confront some of the same issues concerning the role of greenspace in the urban environment that Paris faced more than a century ago. My study will move from a broad theoretical and geographical perspective of public park development to a consideration of the practice of Parisian urban greenspaces: the individual Parisians, their impact on, and actual experience of greenspace within the city of Paris. This progression will address thematic concerns such as concepts of the urban environment, nature, hygiene, class and capitalism, public and private spaces, gender and urban identities, and human agency.