Pierre Purseigle

Presentation - Pierre Purseigle is Associate Professor in Modern European History at the University of Warwick and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. A graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon, he began his career at the University of Toulouse and the University of Oxford, before taking up a lectureship and senior lectureship at the University of Birmingham. He was also Marie Curie Research Fellow at Yale University and Trinity College Dublin and Visiting Professor at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

 His work to date has mainly focused on the European and global history of the First World War. His first monograph was a comparative study of urban mobilization in England and France between 1900 and 1918. He also co-authored a book on the history of the British world (1815-1931) and edited and co-edited several scholarly volumes. He has published articles and book chapters on the comparative urban history of the First World War, on refugeedom during the conflict, and on humour in wartime. His most recent publications have investigated the historiography and global history of the First World War and the transformations of the belligerent state during the conflict. He is now working on urban reconstruction after WWI and on a global history of urban catastrophes. 

Research project 

The cities rise again. Urban recovery and reconstruction in the age of catastrophe, 1900-1939

This project will first investigate the reconstitution of urban communities in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. It will produce an urban history of the transition from war to peace. Based on a study of devastated cities of France and Belgium, it will offer a social history of reconstruction to supplement conventional approaches to the post-war stabilization of Europe.

Secondly, I will position this study in a wider reflection on the global history of urban catastrophes and reconstruction in the early twentieth century (1900-1939). It will explore how urban communities, as well as local and national authorities, responded to the devastation visited upon them by natural disasters, accidents, and military conflicts. It will consider how such catastrophes mobilized urban planners, architects, and humanitarian organizations, and transformed their expertise and practices in the process. This comparative and transnational analysis of urban catastrophes in Europe, the Americas, and Japan will shed new light on the process of social change and the nature of urban resilience. 

This project addresses many issues of interest to colleagues working at Paris-Seine in the AGORA research group as well at the ENSA-V.