Keynote speakers

Stephen Graham (Newcastle University)

Vilsoni Hereniko (University of Hawai'i)

C.Y. Jim (University of Hong Kong)

Sean Mallon (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)

Elaine Stratford (University of Tasmania)

John Urry (Lancaster University)


This conference brings together researchers from across the globe to explore urban life on islands and archipelagos.

Islands are often associated with peripherality, yet they have long been important sites for the growth of cities. Physical separation from the mainland and spatial limitations can encourage the transport of products and ideas, improved defence infrastructure, construction of social capital, consolidation of political power, formation of vibrant cultures, and concentration of population. Some island cities were located on inland river islands and have since expanded far beyond their original borders while others are still strongly associated with their island cores. Some islands became cities as a result of colonial histories, while in some parts of the world the migration of islanders to urban hubs has shaped distinct metropolitan societies and cultures.

Fostering dialogue between the fields of island studies and urban studies, this interdisciplinary conference will feature presentations that explore and critique the varied connections between the urban and the insular from a diversity of perspectives on culture, planning, politics, architecture, economy, and environment in island cities worldwide. We welcome papers and panels focusing on individual case studies as well comparative analyses and conceptual frames.
Presentations are invited to address questions such as:

  • How does islandness sustain processes of urbanisation?
  • How can urban planning and urban design address the challenges faced by island societies?
  • Why are islands historically privileged sites for urban development?
  • How does islandness influence urban cultures?
  • What roles do island cities play in national, regional, and global frameworks and processes?
  • How does urbanisation affect island society and environment?
  • How does island city status affect distributions of political authority?
  • How do urban archipelagos relate to their hinterlands and oceanic environments?
  • How are island cultures reconstituted in (mainland) urban diasporas?
  • What challenges do island environments pose to urban development and planning?
  • How does the particular mobility of island populations shape the development of island cities?
  • What other topics are critical to the future of island cities?

Collaborating partners

Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos research network
Graduate Institute of Environmental Education, National Taiwan Normal University
Ocean College, Zhejiang University
Department of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines Manila
Centre of Global South-Asian Studies. University of Copenhagen
Department of Human Geography, Lund University
Department of Architecture, Chu Hai College of Higher Education
Centre for Small States, School of Law at Queen Mary, University of London

The conference is generously supported by the Faculty of Arts and the Department of Geography of the University of Hong Kong.