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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Thomas Joashi


  Architecture, Magdalene College

  PhD thesis: Rethinking Urban Conflict through the French Wars of Religion



Research interests:

  1. Spatial theory
  2. Religious violence
  3. Urban history
  4. Reformation studies

My PhD investigates cross-confessional experiences of the built environment during the French Wars of Religion through the lens of modern architectural and urban social theory. I consider accounts of daily life and popular unrest in sixteenth-century France against scholarship on contemporary contested cities, seeking tensions between the past and present. The output of the twentieth century’s pioneering spatial theoreticians was largely shaped by their analyses of modernity, influencing scholars of urban conflict in turn. I propose that a closer inspection of early modern cities and their navigation during the Wars may bear new insights into the roles of religion and violence in fashioning spatial practices¬¬. My project is thus both historical and sociological in its approach to the city.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I am largely inspired by the scholars Denis Crouzet and Natalie Zemon Davis in my research, whose writings on French religious violence examine the roles played by agitators, their faith, and their city with equal care. My theoretical interests stem from my undergraduate dissertation, which sought a dialogue between the Humanist oeuvre of François Rabelais and Henri Lefebvre’s Production of Space. I then continued in this vein during my MPhil, working at the crossroads of sixteenth-century Parisian history and contemporary urban thought.