CfP: ICMM Regional Conference on ‘Ports. Nodes of Globalisation. History, Perspectives, Museums.’

Who: International Congress of Maritime Museums

Where: Hamburg, Germany

When: 17th to 19th October 2018 



Ports have always been hubs of global economic and socio-cultural relationships. As interfaces between water and land, between seas, rivers and canals on the one hand and cities, roads, railways and the hinterland on the other hand, they have always enabled the near and distant transport and exchange of goods, knowledge and people. Their infrastructure has always been highly technical and constantly changing. The work in the harbor has been considered as hard and has shaped the character and myth of port cities until today. Ports used to be the center of coastal cities, but increasing demand for space and higher security regulations are pushing ports more and more out of their cities. Ecological concerns lead to conflicts. At the same time, abandoned port districts and waterfronts are being regenerated for new uses of housing, work, leisure and culture.

Traditionally maritime museums are dedicated to the history and culture of seafaring. The focus is on ships, nautical instruments, engines and machinery. Captains, ship owners and shipbuilders are just as much a topic as freights and journeys to far away shores. Ports are usually only one of many topics. The fundamental change of ports and port cities is rarely analyzed and represented in its current and historical complexity.

With the German Port Museum the public Foundation of the Historic Museums Hamburg is currently developing a new national museum dedicated to the history and presence of German ports and their connections to the world. The future German Port Museum will be a place where the port serves as an explanatory model of global economic and socio-cultural connections. For this purpose, the German Port Museum will take on international perspectives and develop its narratives based on a collection of objects that represent the different dimensions of global exchange. The German Port Museum will cast a strong socio-historical and socio-political perspective on history in order to assess current situations and developments.

In order to deepen our understanding of the history, presence and future of ports the Historic Museums Hamburg would like to invite scholars and museum practitioners to an ICMM Regional Conference to be held in Hamburg from 17th to 19th October 2018. We would like to present and discuss current academic research and innovative approaches from the museum practice on the following topics:

  • Ports as places and nodes of globalization and colonialism
  • Change and development of seaports and inland ports
  • Changes in technology and work in the port (from manual work to digital work)
  • Experiences and memories of port work
  • Ports as industrial areas
  • Shipbuilding industry
  • Port regeneration
  • Ecological “intruders” in the harbor
  • Sustainability and future of the port industry and port conglomerates
  • The “myths” of ports and port cities

As part of the conference, a visit to the current Hamburg Port Museum and a modern container terminal as well as an alternative harbor tour are planned. The conference will be hosted under the banner of ICMM (International Congress of Maritime Museums). ICMM brings maritime museum professionals together from all over the world for regular conferences, creating a strong network of maritime museums and people.


Call for Papers

We are looking for papers from current research in the social sciences, cultural anthropology, social and economic history, maritime history, industrial archeology and contemporary history as well as contributions on innovative approaches in collection policies, exhibitions and educational programs of maritime museums.

The conference language will be English. The conference papers will be published in a proceedings volume. The travel and accommodation costs of the speakers are borne by the host.

Proposals for papers should be submitted as PDF via e-mail until 31st July 2018 to:

Ursula Richenberger, Project manager for the Development of the German Port Museum

Abstracts should be less than 500 words. Please give the name and affiliation of the author and co-authors. The title should be brief and descriptive.


The Host: Foundation of the Historic Museums Hamburg / German Port Museum

The Historic Museums Hamburg, a public foundation, is one of the largest municipal and regional historical museum establishments in Europe. The museums in the foundation present the history of Hamburg and the region – from its beginnings in around 800 through to the Port City it has become today, from the port workers to the upper classes including both national and European contexts.

The foundation is currently made up of the three main museums – Museum for the History of Hamburg, the Altonaer Museum and the Museum of Work as well as the branch museums – Port Museum Hamburg, Jenisch House, the Old Warehouse District Museum, the Grocer’s Widow’s Apartment, the Millerngate-Guardhouse and the Heine House. The Museum Service Hamburg, the central visitor service for 22 Hamburg museums, is also part of the Historic Museums Hamburg.

The Foundation Historic Museums Hamburg is entrusted with the project management and development of the German Port Museum. The project is funded by the Federal German Government with a total grant of 120 million euros (including the retrieval and restoration of the four masted barque PEKING).

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