June 2013

The history of the city is that of civilization itself. Thousands of years have already passed since humanity began settling in urban dwellings, and still today mankind’s daily life and activities are fundamentally based on the city. Thus, to understand the history of cities is none other than to critically and logically consider the history of habitation. The city has come to find itself on the verge of crisis never before experienced but increasingly the status quo, not just because of natural disasters but also due to human intervention. A re-evaluation of the fundamental layer of traditional urbanism around the world, lost in the course of modernization, should be carried out from a modern perspective. By uncovering this rich historical underlay, its inherent value would become apparent. Despite it being a long process, our strategy is to gain a solid foothold in the history and unique life of cities within this age of confusion, in order to develop prospects for the optimum city.

The Japanese archipelago had already witnessed pioneering but fragmented research on the history of cities since the Pre-War period, and subsequently of sufficient quality and volume after the late 1960’s. Urban historical research had quite rapidly reached a high standard with interdisciplinary cooperation, particularly between the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. From the 1990’s to the present, the fruits of a rich harvest from various fields has been amassed. The purpose of founding this institution is to establish common ground where disciplines from other fields developing urban history can meet, to create an open and solid platform for the urban history of this archipelago, and to develop a locus within the global research network.

While urban history is framed by general and fundamental studies of human settlements, this institution seeks to encompass not only cities, but society and the extents of space, including villages and the natural environment. The ongoing collaboration of various fields such as politics, the social sciences, economics, culture, ideology, literature, space, landscape, archaeology, and geology can yield rich and innovative results. In summation, the Society of Urban and Territorial History plans to grow within this kind of exchange.