The Governance of the Atlantic Ports (14th-21st centuries) 

Red Temática de Excelencia (2016-2018)

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27-28 October 2022

7th International Meeting of the Governance of the Atlantic Ports, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain

Atlantic Port Cities and Global Connections


Scientific goals of the network

Seaports are increasingly seen as active agents in processes of modernisation, technological innovation and urbanisation. As a result, port history in recent decades has undergone a renaissance, although the focus has mainly been on economic and technologicalissues. However, historians increasingly view ports not simply as infrastructure but rather as complex systems shaped by economic, political, social and cultural forces.

Because of their complexity seaports are difficult to analyse. They embody a series of multifaceted economic, cultural, social, political and spatial components actively interacting. Taking this premise as a crucial one, this research group do not intend to focus solely on one or some of these components, but rather promote a related analysis between them.

As a result, this consortium promotes a significant number of research axes, embodied by the individual research of each one of its members, able to enhance the way to a common research.

One can point, as the main ones:
• Government policies on seaports.
• Seaport law and jurisdiction systems (evolution, coexistence, overlapping).
• Seaport administration systems (management institutions, taxation, judicial, economic and financial systems; …).
• Seaport structures and infrastructures (public works in seaports; seaport access by land and by sea; defense structures; loading and unloading infrastructures;shipyards; industrial facilities; …).
• Urbanism in seaports: the public and the private space; urban policies; the transference of knowledge , agents, and urban models).
• Environment policies, environment conscientiousness and environmental impact.
• Economic policies in seaports (from monopoly to free ports to present competition amoung ports).

• Economic organization (labour market; labour force; trade unions; capital; banking; financial markets, …).
• Economic trends, economic behaviours and economic mechanisms.
• Social dynamics (social framework of seaport communities; population structure and demographic rates; social inclusion and exclusion patterns; social hierarchy: the evolving elites in seaports; social assistance; criminality, delinquency and social control).
• Cultural and religious phenomena (cultural representations: art, literature, material culture; religious practices; orthodox and heterodox believes; conventional religious practices and deviance)
• Heritage and identity issues (from common memories to conflictive representations; the policies of memory; heritage as economic asset… ).

In addition to the formal practices of governance, the informal ones are expected to be considered as well, in order to enhance the dynamics resulting from the interaction between systems designed by the central authorities and those arising from a construction from bellow, from the social bases and agents on the ground, which are often as important as the first to apprehend the historical dynamics of seaports. 

The understanding of the norm and its deviance is yet a main goal of the team, on the assumption that historical processes arise from one as much as from the other. Plus, the understanding that the deviance becomes frequently the rule in undercurrent processes in seaports drives our theoretical questioning simultaneously to both dimensions of the same reality. A diachronic and synchronically comparative analysis is foreseen in order to understand patterns of evolution of seaport systems and governance models. This is expected to clarify issues of transference of seaport models, especially between metropolitan and colonial spaces in the Atlantic, as well as to understand the historical variables which interfere with those processes.

Staff of Researchers

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What we do?


List of publications promoted and coordinated by the Governance of the Atlantic Ports

Meetings and Workshops

Meeting and Workhops organized by the scientific network


Media contents created by the scientific network


Information on meetings and media contents 

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