CFP: 4th European Congress on World and Global History – Panel: Peripheral Port-Cities as Portals of Globalization

This panel on ‘Peripheral Port-Cities as Portals of Globalization’ is to take place at the 4th European Congress on World and Global History in Paris, 4-7 September 2014.

The panel focuses on port-cities that once were relevant portals of globalization, but for one reason or another lost their appeal or saw their strategic centrality reduced on a global scale. We address both historical overviews and analyses of representations and perceptions.

Title and short abstract (100 words) can be sent to the e-mail-address you find at the bottom of this announcement, by the 15th of September 2013.

Full Abstract

In the common understanding of globalization port-cities play a crucial role, connecting each other as well as respective hinterlands. Such port-cities attained centrality in the process of global integration, both through material interconnectedness and perceptions of prominence, which in turn underpinned the city’s infrastructure and identity. These dynamics form the backbone of many a thriving global city. However, not all stories have been or remained success stories. In this panel we focus on port-cities that once were relevant portals of globalization, but for one reason or another lost their appeal or strategic centrality on a global scale – either temporarily or for good. The focus is on the 19th and 20th centuries.

The starting point for this panel is threefold. First, we assert that for a proper understanding of global integration as a non-linear process short-lived or tragic instances of (some degree of) global prominence are as essential as the eye-catching success stories. Secondly, we believe that material or perceived traits that helped a port-city become a portal of globalization in the first place, are crucial to recognize the continuity between before, during and after, and to overcome too simplistic binary centre-periphery thinking. Thirdly, we are interested in what remains of having once been a portal of globalization when a port-city’s centrality decreases. Some impact of once having been globally prominent as well as remnants of connectedness, centrality and world-savvy mentality can still be present – can even have become part of the place’s perceived roots or identity, both locally and radiating over longer distances, in both internal and external perceptions, in both reputations of past glory and of decay.

This panel about port-cities as erstwhile portals of globalization addresses the following questions: why or how did a port-town become a portal of globalization; what did it mean to be a portal of globalization; and how can we discern the legacies of having been a portal of globalization?

The panel consists of two parts, each addressing this set of questions from a different angle. The first part focuses on the ‘descriptive’ side of the story, with historical interpretations of the rise and fall of peripheral port-cities as portal of globalization, incl. aftermath and possible revival. The second part specifically focuses on ‘representations’, with analyses of how a port-city was imagined or perceived during and after its heydays, both locally and externally. Papers that combine both angles are of course also welcome.


Geert Castryck

Centre for Area Studies

University of Leipzig

Thomaskirchhof 20

DE – 04109 Leipzig


Read full post here. (Originally posted August 12, 2013)

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