Book Review-‘Port Towns and Urban Cultures: International histories of the waterfront, c. 1700–2000’ ed. by B. Beaven, K. Bell and R. James

By Charlotte Mathieson, published November 2020

Abstract

Situated on the borders of sea and land, ports occupy a unique position: a point of arrival and departure, import and export, liminality, and transition. Movement is integral to the life of ports, with incoming and outgoing flows – of people, things, water – creating a space that is constantly in flux. This flux resonates in the scholarly status of ports which, while not entirely overlooked, have been readily pushed to the margins of sea and land studies: not truly maritime enough for maritime history, too distinct from inland cities and towns to fit within urban studies, and different yet again from coasts and beaches; when ports have been studied, it has typically been through discussion of their mercantile and naval activity…

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