Project

The European Spa as a Transnational Public Space and Social Metaphor (2019-2022) is part of the HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) funding initiative of the European Union devoted to the topic Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe. The HERA call defines public spaces as “open domains of human encounters and exchanges”, “connected with the exchanges of values and beliefs and with the formation and appropriations of institutions”. It invites humanities scholars to identify “how the relations between culture and [European] integration within the context of public space(s) have been modelled”.

Within this framework, our project sets out to rethink the spa as a core concept and object of European debate. It investigates how the European spa, with its characteristic institutions such as the Kurpark, sanatorium, grand hotel and casino, developed into a transnational public space and functioned as a stage for the negotiation of political, social and cultural issues of European relevance. 

Together with our partners, we will produce a travelling exhibition, displayed at various spas and spa museums, educational materials and a catalogue of digital resources concerning European spa culture. Moreover, we will combine our fieldwork in the different countries with a “researcher in residence” programme. While conducting our project research in situ at our partners’ spa locations, we will engage in events open to the public such as lectures, ‘pint of science’, guided tours through the museums / spa vicinities, presentation and discussion of spa novels or films.