Proposal preview

Port Cities, Empires, and Global Maritime Trade in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Connections and Comparisons


Port cities were the spaces where the maritime commercial ambitions of merchants and trade corporations converged with the political and economic aspirations of empires and nation states. Port cities played a significant role in the growth and long sustenance of commercial exchange as well as in the imperial and national political economies. This panel seeks to explore the commercial and political dynamics of some major port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the 18th and 19th centuries with a focus on the relationship between ports and the markets to which they were connected through trade (foreland). The purpose is to initiate a conversation among scholars/participants working on port cities and maritime trade in different oceanic regions and under different imperial regimes with the hope that this will lead to a comparative perspective on port cities and the relationship between maritime trade and imperial political economies. A major focus of this panel is to explore port cities as sites where political sovereignty was enforced, negotiated, and contested. During this period, empires underwent major political transformations, which had some significant implications for maritime trade and the commercial fortunes of the port cities. The panelists will explore how the port cities navigated the challenges and what were the outcomes. We hope the panel will cover some major port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean and other seas. In short, we show how ports operated as centers of trans-imperial trade, imperial control, and resistance to imperial authority.

Our panelists will explore the global character of the port cities during this period in their respective areas of expertise by highlighting the trans-imperial/transnational trade networks and their political and economic implications. They will examine the economic and political dynamics that shaped the relationship between empires/nations, port-cities, and maritime trade. In so doing, they will explore how long-distance trade connections facilitated imperial expansion and control but, also at the same time, provided the economic incentives and development for port cities to resist imperial hegemony. Our main objective is to bridge the oceanic divides in the scholarship and develop comparative perspectives on structural and commercial dynamics of port cities as it pertains to imperial and national political economies.


This panel will follow a standard format, with six to eight papers and one or two discussants. The papers will be pre-circulated. Each panelist will have between 15-20 minutes for presentation followed by discussion and Q&A. We plan to have papers on port cities of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and of the Mediterranean and other seas. Each paper will explore one or more issues/inquiries outlined above with an overall objective to develop a global comparative perspective.


  • Jeremy Land, Georgia State University,, United States
  • Ghulam Nadri, Georgia State University,, United States

Session members

  • David Doran, Georgia State University,
  • Constantin Ardeleanu, University Dunarea de Jos of Galati,
  • Gelina Harlaftis, Ionian University,
  • Servando Valdés Sánchez , Instituto de Historia de Cuba,
  • Vincent Geloso, London School of Economics/Texas Tech University,
  • Rodrigo Dominguez, University of Minho; University of Porto,
  • Alexandra Papadopoulou, Institute of Mediterranean Studies/FORTH,
  • Chris Nierstrasz, Erasmus University, Rotterdam,
  • Manish Kumar, University of Groningen,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Ghulam Nadri, Georgia State University,