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Symposium on Port Cities, Rivers and Hinterlands in North-Western Europe (29/30 May)

29 May 2013

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Cultural historians, literary scholars, geographers and maritime practitioners from the Benelux-countries, France, Germany and the UK will come together for a symposium on port cities as places of cultural exchange in London on 29 and 30 May. The conference is jointly organised by UCL Belgium (Université Catholique de Louvain), UCL London and Senate House Library, University of London.

Serving as interface between overseas territories and European hinterlands, the ports of the European north-west shoreline are places of transfer for material goods. This makes them trading posts of the West, whose symbolic importance is as important today as it was in the past. Ports are settling places for immigrant communities from which social and cultural influences spread. They are venues on which so many migrants converge to embark, transforming them into cosmopolitan crossroads of the “Wretched of the Earth”. They constitute a source of inspiration for a multitude of long-hauled, imaginary journeys.

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Representing specific challenges in terms of political, economic and social governance, the arc of ports in North-Western Europe will be considered – stretching from Le Havre via Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and London to Bremen and Hamburg. They are mainly located in the mouth or upstream of the mouth of important rivers, from the Seine to the Elbe, including the “Golden Delta” (the Scheldt, the Meuse, the Rhine), and the Weser.

There is a vast body of literature dedicated to individual port cities and rivers. However, studies adopting a comparative or transnational perspective on the subject are few. Likewise, no research has been published yet on the hinterlands and the spaces they constitute, except for older periods. Taking a long period of time into consideration, this project aims to “Europeanize” the issue.

Ulrich Tiedau

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Page last modified on 28 may 13 10:55 by Ulrich Tiedau