Young scholars investigating port-cities
Since this blog started I have been contacted by many interested on the port-city relationship. Initially I was surprised and pleased to see how many people share a common passion for this topic. During the time past I have gotten in contact with other researcher developing interesting investigation projects, from different perspectives that somehow complement themselves. This blog has been since its beginning a platform to share information about port-cities, for this reason it seemed appropriated and useful for its readers to briefly present the research from these colleagues and give their contact for networking opportunities.
In this first post about fellow investigators I will present four of them with whom I have shared discussions and coffee breaks during (sometimes boring) congresses. We all share the same passion for this topic and their work is worth knowing. The following lines give a short introduction to the research of Karel Van den Berghe, Beatrice Moretti, Paolo de Martino, Hilde Sennema, Marica Castigliano and Fatma Tanis. You will notice they all have different backgrounds, but share some similarities. The project descriptions have been provided by themselves.
Karel Van den Berghe
Analyzing the Relational Geometry of the Port-City Interface
This PhD research (Ghent University 2014-2018) applies a relational approach to the study of port city interfaces. Such approach allows us to analyse how actors are connected, transact and assign meaning and value to local development. Much of the literature and studies on the port-city interface have primarily focused on late 20th century transformation processes at the urban waterfront. This fails to appreciate the often continued presence of port activity within cities and falls short in understanding how development agenda of port cities are relationally constituted. Therefore, this PhD research has three main goals. First, we theoretically develop the hypothesis that the port-city interface is not a closed system, but a relational construct through which heterogeneous flows of actors, assets and structures coalesce and take place. Second, using this theoretical framework, a conceptual framework capable of categorizing different relational port-city interfaces is presented and applied in a schematic way to the port cities of Ghent, Belgium, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. By mapping the relational geometries of these port cities, our results show how both public and private actors through networking strategically relate in different ways, across different territorial scales, within different institutionalized structured and between different economic sectors. Third, by analyzing the relational geometries, they provide us with examples of different dynamic actor-relational interplays and how this results in particular development trajectories. Eventually, this research questions the perceived geographical dichotomy between port and city.
PORTUALITY XXI – Models and Strategies for the Urban-Port Dynamic Threshold
‘Portuality’ is a concept rooted in some urban centers from the very early on. A territorial quality which specifically denotes those cities born and developed through strong historic/symbolic and economic/functional relationship with its own port. So, ‘portuality’ is a landscape requirement or a constitutive specificity of some territories. The research supports the recognition of ‘portuality’ as a specific character and together believes that the urban-port threshold, – in its various shapes and patterns -, could emerge as the main symbolic field of exploration where the ‘portuality paradigm’ is expressed also as a planning principle for coexistence strategies between port and city. The urban-port threshold materializes in the complex space along the margin between the two authorities, in that recurring landscape in which the city and the port are side by side. This heterogeneous but unique system is marked by an administrative boundary and is subjected to continuous hybridizations becoming a medium, an accumulator of change and transit. The urban-port threshold is, indeed, a dynamic system, a ‘filter space’: precarious, discontinuous, fragmented into parts where the juxtapositions take sufficient shape to acquire a dimension and be recognizable. According to this approach it is possible to update the old dichotomy ‘city-port’ outlining a new vision in which the port city is a forma urbis in progress, a composite, plural and open figure affected by the speed of changing processes and influenced by the many factors that every day are embodied in its territorial palimpsest.
Paolo de Martino
Port-city development. An interdisciplinary analysis for port city in transition. Naples as case study
Numerous actors have been involved in the planning of the port and city of Naples; actors who have different ideas and goals, different tools, and even time-frames. The European Union, the Italian nation, the Campania Region, the Municipality of Naples, and the Port Authority act upon the port at different levels of planning. Each entity has different spatialities and temporalities. Their diverse goals have led port and city to develop into separate entities, from a spatial, functional as well as administrative point of view. The different scopes of their planning are particularly visible in the zone between port and city. As a result of these different development goals, the interface between port and city, particularly in waterfront zones that form the geographical area between the old city and the modern port, is undefined and its future is in limbo; in fact, the whole relationships between city and port requires rethinking.
Since the XIX century, the multitude and heterogeneity of planning authorities has produced many uncertainties for the port-city relationship in Naples, and a stalemate for the areas where the port physically meets the city. Today, a real regeneration process of the port areas is not yet started, for different reasons and city and port are really separated. This research explores why the city and port of Naples, one of the most important historical ports in Italy, seems resistant to urban plans, as well as co-operation between various actors involved in the urban planning processes. Using the concept of path dependency theory, the research aims to develop an actor-institutional and spatial understanding of the changing port-city relationship in Naples and the resulting urban transformations.
The Port-City as their Business: the involvement of entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam policy network, 1930-1970.
Despite changes to the physical structure of port cities during the twentieth century, ports continue to be connected to the urban scale through local policy systems, business networks, and labour markets. Moreover, ports are still recognized through city names and often build their marketing strategies on a port city identity. In her PhD research, Reinhilde Sennema (Erasmus University Rotterdam) looks at the case of Rotterdam analyze this phenomenon between 1930 and 1970, a time of severe crises (Great Depression, Second World War) and immense infrastructural innovations (petrochemical industry, container). She focuses on the role of port related associations, institutions and individuals in the Rotterdam policy network between 1930 an 1970, and asks why these actors were involved in urban developments, such as the reconstruction of the war damaged city center. In order to do so, she uses archives of, for example, the association for port interests (Stichting Havenbelangen), which was seen as the marketing department of the port of Rotterdam. It is expected that, already in the 1930s, the city of Rotterdam was considered to be an important asset in the world-wide marketing of the port. Conversely, from the 1930s until well in the 1960s, policy makers constructed and used a narrative that a strong port was the foundation of a wealthy city. This study therefore looks into early forms of public-private partnerships, and aims to shed light on the interests and values that are at play within present day collaborations between port and city as well.
Port Systems as Driving Force of Regional Development Strategies – Planning towards Logistics and Urban Regeneration Scenarios
The research project focuses on port systems as networks of infrastructures that spread in the regional territory, for instance through seaport areas, inland terminals, logistics platforms and corridors.
The study starts from the question “how the ‘economies of the sea’ shape the lands?”. It specifically aims to investigate processes of governance involving Port Authorities, Cities and Regions and how they could support new strategies for development, beyond the border of the seaport and according to their specific ambitions.
The ‘spaces of flows’ (like flows of goods) are influencing contemporary landscapesand affect human behaviours and built environments. For this reason, the study investigates global networks focusing on the effects that the supply chain issues produce in the local context of port regions.Port areasof logisticsthat are part of the contemporary urbanized worldare also strategicin planning, especiallywhen new scenarios and urban regeneration programs are set up.
The theoretical framework of the study is based on Post-Metropolitan Urban Studies. According to this theory, the city is no longer a compact urban form. Urban planners have to deal with new ‘splintered’ forms of urbanization and urban structures spreading in wide regional areas. Considering that logistics areas vary in size, distribution and location, the study investigates the port system in a multi-scalar perspective focusing on the multiple actors involved in its governance processes. The port system, with its infrastructural nodes and links, is part of this multi-scalar urbanization and – as source of important transcalar economies–becomes the hard structure of port territories and the study argues that it should be considered in urban development strategies. This infrastructural armour constitutes the ‘operational landscape’ which supports the urban life as –even if it doesn’t seem part of our lives–it provides daily services and influences the organisation of the contemporary society.
The research project aims to investigate the port system and the aspect of governance, trying to answer to the main question “How the improvement of the port system could lead planning strategies for urban and regional development in Italy?”. It includes three sub-questions related to logistics, geographical and historical aspects:
- How do port economies shape the territory and whatare the infrastructural geographies of port regionalization?
- How do these new geographies affect the “surrounding environment” and how do they modifyspaces and plans of the Port-City at the local scale?
- How can we address the gap between transport/logistics and urban development policies?
The study focuses on different European port regions and it investigates the aspect of distribution related to processes of logistics geographies and the aspect of relations among Port Authorities, City, Region and other actors.International cases are used to identify key variables in spatial and governmental evolution of the selected port region.
PORT CITY CULTURE OF IZMIR AS A CROSS-CULTURAL CONSTRUCT – Narratives of Izmir’s Border Crossing Practices since 16th Century
The thesis explores the importance of port city culture through narrative analysis of social-spatial developments in Turkish port city of Izmir. The research aims to investigate how city was constructed by short and long term immigrants and how narratives took position during this construction.Izmir is a particularly appropriate case for this analysis. Travelers have left narratives of the city since the 16th century describing daily life, events, Izmir’s built environment on waterfront and also hinterland. The PhD project has an intention and motivation to achieve to the present and points out how contemporary city and port city culture relation could be re-established through its trans-cultural history.
Port cities with their long-standing and diverse histories, their global networks and changing fates have attracted numerous commentaries and decision-makers have used them carefully to help build a local port city culture. This local culture thrives throughcontinuously evolving of international relationships, goods, people, and ideas, etc. Its locus is the contact zone, a range of diverse spatial figures—industrial, residential, leisure, religious, education, offices- that are centred around the waterfront but also dispersed through the city.
Port city culture is related to numerous different cultures that clash in port cities, “under impacts of internal and external political, economic and social forces” for beneficial of port and trade activities. Plenty of actors, users, protagonists from different countries, from different backgrounds contributed to Izmir’s port city culture. Collaboration of local and European knowledge created unique form.
Alfred Louis Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, “Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions,” Papers. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University (1952).
Are you also a young researcher investigating the port-city relation? contact us!
We will do future posts featuring other researchers. I take this opportunity to invite young scientist dealing with the port-city relationship to get in contact and explain the research project to be featured in another similar article.