European Association for Urban History - 9th International Conference on Urban History; Lyon, 27th - 30th August 2008.
Abstract: The aim of this main session is to bring together two historical genres – the history of the seaside resort and the history of the port - that though buoyant and important in themselves, are rarely explored as interrelated phenomena. Consequently, though resorts and ports frequently occupy the same physical location, their history tends to be contained in parallel rather than converging discourses. It is intended that the session should be as inventive and open-ended as possible. We wish to encourage as wide a range of contributions, about as wide a variety of locations as is concordant with the overall proposal. We would expect the balance between the resort and port functions to vary considerably over time and place. Under the term ‘port’ we include not only marine trading functions, but the whole commercial and industrial life of a coastal town, and under ‘resort’ not only the seasonal seaside holiday business, but also the broader residential, service and cultural sectors that attracted a visitor and residential population. There were coastal towns which remained exclusively ports and others which developed from the beginning exclusively as resorts. These in themselves would qualify for discussion in the session to determine the factors that led them to retain a single economic identity. However, in many, perhaps the majority of coastal towns the two functions would be present to some degree. Even in the most focused resort there may be a fishing industry and some water borne trade, if only to supply the material needs of the visitors, and – in some locations – to generate an image of primitiveness and authenticity. Themes to be explored include not only economic ones – for example, the extent to which resort and port functions competed with or complemented each other - but also issues such as environment and health, planning, civic identity, image, identity, and governance and public order. Resorts and ports both possessed a fluid demography, attracting considerable flows of people of often very different social and ethnic backgrounds. It is expected that the impact of this in terms of social and cultural conflict, assimilation and control, and insider/outsider relations, will form an important area of discussion for the session. Contributions on individual towns are welcome. However, studies which embrace several towns and/or regions/nations would help develop a valuable comparative dimension.
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