Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Port Cities in Historical Perspective

Course unit code: 573449

Academic year: 2017-2018

Coordinator: Elisenda Paluzie Hernandez

Department: Department of Economics

Credits: 10

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 250


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Document study





-  Student presentation and discussion





-  Cultural trip





-  Seminar






Competences to be gained during study


Knowledge forming the basis of original thinking in the development or application of ideas, typically in a research context.


Capacity to apply the acquired knowledge to problem-solving in new or relatively unknown environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to the field of study.


Capacity to communicate conclusions, judgements and the grounds on which they have been reached to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear and unambiguous manner.


CG1 Skills and abilities required to take on the direction, analysis and management of companies and institutions, incorporating the dynamics of internationalization.


CG2. Capacity to work in a team to develop joint projects with professionals from different disciplines.


CE3. Ability to recognize and identify economic and business problems in different areas of commerce, finance and technology, their implications in the management of companies and institutions, and their short- and long-term effects, in order to assess available options and determining factors.


CE5. Ability to analyse the potential and opportunities in different regions of the global economy, identifying the specific traits of each type of market and society in order to improve the effectiveness of activities undertaken along general lines of professional responsibility.


CE6. Ability to identify and evaluate the relationships between the different areas of complex global realities in order to make recommendations and take appropriate decisions.


CE7. Ability to select data and empirical information, to create data from previous sources, to analyse them in a constructive and creative manner, to summarize them in a relevant fashion and to generate critical assessments, so as to support opinions, argue for decisions and proposals.





Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

— To compare the characteristics of land-locked cities and port cities since 1500.

— To evaluate the impact of place and space in historical port cities.

— To discuss the relationship between flows of goods, consumption patterns and lifestyles in port cities within the context of changing global networks.

— To critically analyse how the heterogeneous populations of port cities could foster the confrontation of ideas and the development of creative urban environments.



Teaching blocks


1. Early modern port cities: places, people and innovation

*  The rise of global networks after 1492 is significant to our understanding of the changing nature of port cities. This was determined not only by strictly commercial logic. Political relationships, the need for fresh water, and the dominance of particular wind directions could influence the planning of port cities. A comparison of European and Asian port cities shows that urban planning was also influenced by cultural traditions. Cross-cultural exchanges in this period gave rise to new types of port cities, and urban planning and geographical networks also influenced the social dynamic of port cities. The connections between port cities often resulted in extensive and diverse migration streams. The maritime character of port cities meant that they often had a more diverse population compared to inland cities. Port cities can be praised for their cosmopolitan nature, but cross-cultural contact also resulted in segregation between different ethnic and religious groups. Nevertheless, ethnic and religious minorities proved to be quite essential to long-distance trade. Contact between different ethnic and religious groups typically resulted in fruitful cross-cultural exchange. Harold Cook has shown that commercial relationships were also essential to the rise of modern science, but modern consumption patterns are also highly influenced by global exchange, which started in the early modern period. Tobacco, coffee and chocolate were introduced all over the world. Even artistic creations were influenced by cultural exchange in port cities during the early modern period.

2. The global geography of modern port cities

*  These classes deal with the changing position of port cities in the global economy of the 19th and 20th centuries. Technical developments had an impact on industrialization, first within and later outside cities, while new developments in maritime transport also influenced the outlook of port cities. New urban infrastructures were created – such as new docks and railway stations – and changed ideas about urban planning. However, even more significant were the global developments of this era. Contact between different parts of the world intensified and affected the position of ports, as technological innovations also reshaped the connections between ports and their hinterland. The theories of economist Paul Krugman and the New Economic Geography is central to the study of these developments.

3. People and migration in modern port cities

*  The global and spatial orientation of social sciences and humanities has stimulated a re-evaluation of the significance of port cities. The urban form of port cities was not just the result of trade and commerce or the exchange of ideas, tastes and styles in architecture, as migration played a pivotal role. Since the 1980s these cities have been searching for social and cultural reform, and hoping to catch up with the more successful players in the global economy. Nowadays, scholars dealing with migration, and in particular superdiversity (Vertovec, 2007), have become interested in local reactions to global migration patterns. Port cities are interesting examples, since their typical maritime urban culture was shaped by patterns of migration. 



Teaching methods and general organization


Seminars and field trips. 



Official assessment of learning outcomes


One written examination after each teaching week: paper 1 (30%), paper 2 (30%), and paper 3 (40%).



Reading and study resources

Consulteu la disponibilitat a CERCABIB


  • Paardenkooper, Klara (2014) The Port of Rotterdam and the maritime container: The rise and fall of Rotterdam’s hinterland (1966-2010) (Unpublished thesis: Rotterdam 2014) 179-228.  https://repub.eur.nl/pub/51657


  • Cook, Harold J. “Global Economies and Local Knowledge in the East Indies. Jacobus Bontius Learns the Facts of Nature.” In Colonial Botany. Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World, edited by Londa Schiebinger and Claudia Swan, 100–118. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/2190.


  • Lemire, Beverly. “‘Men of the World’: British Mariners, Consumer Practice, and Material Culture in an Era of Global Trade, c. 1660–1800.” Journal of British Studies 54, no. 2 (April 2015): 288–319. https://doi.org/10.1017/jbr.2015.7.


  • Biedermann, Zoltan. “Colombo versus Cannanore: Contrasting Structures of Two Colonial Port Cities (1500-1700).” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 52, no. 3 (2009): 413 – 459. https://doi.org/10.1163/156852009X458214.

  • Baldwin, Richard E. and Philippe Martin, “Two Waves of Globalisation: Superficial Similarities, Fundamental Differences.” NBER Working Paper No. 6904, January 1999. 1-35.  http://www.nber.org/papers/w6904

  • Bosker, Maarten, Eltjo Buringh, and Jan Luiten Van Zanden. “From Baghdad to London: Unraveling Urban Development in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, 800–1800.” Review of Economics and Statistics 95, no. 4 (2013): 1418–37. https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00284.

  • Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson. “The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth.” American Economic Review 95, no. 3 (2005): 546–79.  https://doi.org/10.1257/0002828054201305.

Web page

  • Jenstad, Janelle. n.d. “The Agas Map.” The Map of Early Modern London. Edited by Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Explore early modern London! http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/map.htm