Port cities and towns are the proverbial ‘liminal’ space, betwixt and between land and sea, the domestic and the alien, the familiar and the foreign. Traditionally, such ‘between’ spaces have often been seen as providing the opportunity for mischief, misrule, and the plain illicit and illegal. Ports have long been associated with a wide array of criminal activities, criminal figures, and criminal cultures: from brawling and drunkenness through prostitution, pimping, crimping, and petty larceny to smuggling and piracy. Criminality ranged, and ranges, from the desperate and opportunistic to the organized and systemic. The 2016 Port City Lives conference, organized and hosted by the Centre for Port and Maritime History, seeks contributions that will help us to better understand the history of criminality in port cities and towns. We welcome papers that will seek to: map port city criminality across time and space; understand the relationship between criminality and the specific urban space of the port; ask how (and why) port city criminality differs from that found in other urban settings; investigate the criminal cultures, organizations, institutions and actors found in port cities; interrogate the history of port city policing, punishment, and imprisonment; investigate whether port city communities developed their own particular moral codes and economies; and, hopefully, unpick some of the myths so readily associated with port city criminality. Tales picaresque and hair-raising will be embraced.
Equally, we will welcome analyses of representations of port city criminality across a wide range of media. Other potential lines of enquiry might follow the links – real or imagined – between transgression and transnationality: the port, for example, is often seen as a point of vulnerability through which threats to the nation or the race might enter, witness the “Yellow Peril” scare of the late nineteenth-century or contemporary fears fixated on “the Jungle” migrant camp at Calais. At the same time, ports were conduits for noxious and dangerous foreign commodities, illegal drugs especially. Perhaps for all these reasons, ports have also long-held a fascinating, if seedy, glamour. The spectacle of port city criminality should not be ignored. We welcome proposals of individual papers and whole panels (three papers) on these or any other issues connected to port city criminality. The conference is without limitations in terms of either period or geography.
The conference will be held in Liverpool (venue to be confirmed) on 9th-10thSeptember, 2016. Please send one page abstracts and brief author biographies to either Professor Nick White (N.J.White@ljmu.ac.uk) or Professor Andrew Popp (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for submissions is June 30th, 2016.