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.
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 papersand submit
an abstract as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the organisers
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.
Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)
Jon Pierre (University of Gothenburg)
Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta)
Jonathan Pugh (Newcastle University)
Christian Wichmann Matthiessen (University of Copenhagen)
Brenda S.A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore)
Ilan Kelman (University College London)
Adam Grydehøj (Island Dynamics)
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
Department of Human Geography
Queen’s University Belfast,
School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology
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
Manila • Mombasa • Miami Beach • Montreal • Mumbai