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
About the conference.
Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos is an international, interdisciplinary island
studies conference exploring 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 will also consider how and why different
island cities have developed in different ways.
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 conference will take place in the Baltic island city of Copenhagen, with talks
taking place on Christianshavn, a man-made archipelago built as a trading and garrison
town in the 1600s. Canal-crossed Christianshavn combines cutting-edge galleries,
an opera house, lively cafés and gourmet restaurants, and the counter-cultural bastion
of Freetown Christiania. Christianshavn is located between downtown Copenhagen on
the island of Zealand to the north and the island of Amager to the south.
Delegates will be able to explore Copenhagen as a whole: 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. Delegates will also also be able to visit Malmö, with its Medieval
island old town and castle complex. Like Copenhagen, Malmö is an ethnically diverse
centre of industry, research, and architecture.
Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)
Jon Pierre (University of Gothenburg)
Christian Wichmann Matthiessen (University of Copenhagen)
Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta)
Brenda S.A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore)
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
Queen’s University Belfast,
School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology
Islands cities, past and present
Ambon • Abu Dhabi • Amsterdam • Bruges • Chongming
Copenhagen • Fukuoka • George Town (Penang)
Haikou • Havana • Heraklion • Hong Kong • Honolulu
Jeju City • Macau • Malé • Malmö • Malta • Manila
Miami Beach • Montreal • Mumbai • Naha • New York City