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Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos Conference
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10/21/2014 to 10/25/2014
When: 10/21/2014
Where: Christianshavn
Contact: Adam Grydehøj

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Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos

When: 21 October 2014–25 October 2014

Where: Copenhagen, Denmark


Contact: Adam Grydehøj,



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.


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 and 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.


To propose a presentation, visit the call for papers at The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2014 May 31, 2014. If you have any questions, please contact the organisers at


Plenary speakers:
Saskia Sassen (Columbia University), Jon Pierre (University of Gothenburg), Christian Wichmann Matthiessen (University of Copenhagen), Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta), and Brenda S. A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore).


Collaborating partners:
This Island Dynamics conference is a collaboration of the International Geographical Union's Commission on Islands; the University of Portsmouth's Centre for Art, Architecture & Design; and the University of the Balearic Islands' Department of Catalan Philology & General Linguistics.


About the location:

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.


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