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Conference Call for Papers Register Practical Tour Island Studies Conferences Island Studies Research Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos

Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos 2014

21-25 October 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark

Download programme and abstracts.

A diversity of island cities.

Islands are often associated with peripherality, yet over the course of human history, they have also been important sites of urban development. Many important regional cities and global cities have developed wholly or partially on small islands or archipelagos. Physical separation from the mainland and spatial limitations along with a maritime tradition can encourage the transport of products and ideas, improved defence infrastructure, construction of social capital, consolidation of political power, formation of vibrant cultures, and concentration of population. Some such island-based cities were located on inland river islands and have since expanded far beyond their original borders (for example, Paris and Strasbourg) while others are still strongly associated with their island cores (for example, Hong Kong and New York City).

Major population centres located on larger, primarily rural islands and archipelagos represent another type of island city. Each of these cities is affected not just by the dynamics at work in urban areas in general but also by the special functions it gains from acting as a metropolis that provides goods and services to rural island hinterlands.

About the conference.

This international, interdisciplinary academic conference explores how island status influences urban development, common attributes of island cities worldwide, and the opportunities that islandness presents for developing urban cultures and economies. It also considers how islands and archipelagos can be used as conceptual tools for understanding urban development more broadly.

The conference will feature presentations on a variety of subjects relating to urban island culture, government, and economy. A variety of fields and disciplines will be covered, including anthropology, archaeology, architecture, arts & design, business, film, folklore, history, literature, planning, political science, public administration, sociology, and tourism. Presentations may concern cases from individual cities or take a comparative approach to understanding what it means to be an urban island.

The deadline for abstracts is now closed. However, particularly valuable new abstracts may still be accepted. To propose a presentation, visit the call for papers and submit an abstract as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the organisers at

About the location.

The conference will take place in the Baltic island city of Copenhagen, with presentations being held at VerdensKulturCentret.

Delegates will be able to explore Copenhagen as a whole: in Christianshavn, a man-made archipelago from the 1600s, now home to cutting-edge galleries, an opera house, gourmet restaurants, and the counter-cultural bastion of Freetown Christiania; in the North and South Harbours, where luxury residential development meets maritime industry meets traditional fishing; in Tivoli Gardens, established in 1843; in the vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods of Vesterbro and Nørrebro; and on Slotsholm, the seat of Denmark’s cultural, financial, and political power.

A number of cultural activities have been planned alongside the conference. To learn more about these and to sign up for them, please visit the registration page.

Keynote speakers

Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta)

Jonathan Pugh (Newcastle University)

Stephen Royle (Queens University Belfast)

Edwin Thumboo (National University of Singapore)

Christian Wichmann Matthiessen (University of Copenhagen)

Brenda S.A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore)

Ilan Kelman (University College London)

Adam Grydehøj (Island Dynamics)

Collaborating partners

University of Portsmouth,

Centre for Art, Architecture & Design

Memorial University of Newfoundland,

Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy & Development

University of the Balearic Islands,

Department of Catalan Philology & General Linguistics

Lund University,

Department of Human Geography

Queen’s University Belfast,

School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology

VerdensKulturCentret, Copenhagen

Sharing Copenhagen

Islands cities, past and present

Ambon • Abu Dhabi • Amsterdam • Bahrain • Bruges  

Chongming • Copenhagen • Fukuoka • Florianópolis

George Town (Penang) • Gothenburg • Haikou

Havana • Heraklion • Hong Kong • Honolulu • Jeju City Lagos • Macau • Malé • Malmö • Malta

Manila • Mombasa • Miami Beach • Montreal • Mumbai

Naha • New York City • Palma (Majorca) • Palermo

Paris • Portsmouth • Reykjavik • St Petersburg

Strasbourg • Singapore • Stockholm • Taipei

Tromsø • Venice • Xiamen

and others

Photo © Robert Thomason •