2012 Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce the two keynote speakers for Port City Lives 2012:

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.David Featherstone, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Glasgow, UK

Black internationalism, port city lives and the construction of place: aspects of a left maritime geography

This paper explores the intersections between black internationalism, maritime labour and the construction of place. It focuses on the relations between black internationalist political networks and organizing in Butetown, Cardiff during the inter-war period. In particular the paper engages with the political activity and organizing of Harry O’Connell a seafarer from (then) British Guiana who became a key figure in organizing Cardiff’s multi-ethnic dockside communities during the 1920s and 1930s. A committed Communist O’Connell was a skilled political broker who drew on the resources of Communist-led organizations like the League Against Imperialism as well as the more reformist League of Coloured Peoples (Sherwood, 1991).

The paper develops three ‘cuts’ through maritime and port city lives in Cardiff during the inter-war period. Firstly, the paper interrogates struggles over the spaces of maritime labour and organizing, particularly contestation of the ‘white labourism’ of the National of Union Seamen. These struggles generated alternative spaces of organizing forged through the  Communist-affiliated International of Seamen and Harbour Workers and the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers. Secondly, the  paper draws out intersections between anti-colonialism and anti-fascism forged through opposition to Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. Finally, the paper engages with struggles against the introduction of ‘Jim Crow’ segregated housing in Cardiff which were defeated in the 1940s. The paper concludes by outlining some key aspects of a left maritime geography.

David Featherstone is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Glasgow. He has key research interests in space, politics and resistance in both the past and present and has had a keen interest in maritime labour ever since reading Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s work. He is the author of Resistance Space and Political: the Making of Counter-Global Networks (Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism (London, Zed, 2012) and co-editor with Joe Painter of Spatial Politics: Essays for Doreen Massey  (Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

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Sheryllynne Haggerty, Associate Professor of History, University of Nottingham, UK

Managing Microwave Manuals: Port history, networks and interdisciplinarity

Ports have been studied by a wide range of disciplines, for example, archaeology, geography, history, and marine biology.  They have been approached as centres of commerce and finance, as links to the wider world through migration, as transport nodes (including containerisation), as gendered spaces, as providers of food, and more recently, as centres of networks. This has meant that studying ports has attracted different disciplines, but not always interdisciplinarity. Yet, we are all supposed to be interdisciplinarians now! However, this is not always that easy to achieve. A lone quest means covering lots of unknown and new literature, joint ventures mean finding someone you trust to work well with, and larger projects are a nightmare to manage (and get funding for). Add to that the fact that journals and the REF are usually single-discipline focussed, means that publishing an interdisciplinary article can prove problematic. However, working with others can be fun, educational and thought provoking, and writing new or joint approaches can be relatively ‘work light’ in terms of primary research. Focussing on personal experience, this paper considers the pros and cons, and highs and lows, of interdisciplinary research when studying port city lives.


Sheryllynne Haggerty’s main area of study is the business culture and trading communities of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic, but she is also currently involved in interdisciplinary work on networks. Her first monograph, The British-Atlantic Trading Community, 1760-1810: Men, Women, and the Distribution of Goods was published by Brill Press in 2006. Her second, ‘Merely for Money’? Business Culture in the British-Atlantic, 1750-1815, is being published by Liverpool University Press in 2012.



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