This volume explores the mutually transformative relations between migrants and port cities. Throughout the ages of sail and steam, port cities served as nodes of long-distance transmissions and exchanges. Commercial goods, people, animals, seeds, bacteria and viruses; technological and scientific knowledge and fashions all arrived in, and moved through, these microcosms of the global. Migrants made vital contributions to the construction of the urban-maritime world in terms of the built environment, the particular sociocultural milieu, and contemporary representations of these spaces. Port cities, in turn, conditioned the lives of these mobile people, be they seafarers, traders, passers-through, or people in search of a new home. By focusing on migrants—their actions and how they were acted upon—the authors seek to capture the contradictions and complexities that characterized port cities: mobility and immobility, acceptance and rejection, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, diversity and homogeneity, segregation and interaction.

The book offers a wide geographical perspective, covering port cities on three continents. Its chapters deal with agency in a widened sense, considering the activities of individuals and collectives as well as the decisive impact of sailing and steamboats, trains, the built environment, goods or microbes in shaping urban-maritime spaces.

chapter |16 pages


part I|110 pages

Migrants and the Construction of Port City Spaces

chapter 3|24 pages

“Let Genius and Patriotism, from Whatever Quarter of the Earth, Be Naturalized among Us”

New York City Friends of Industry and Foreign Migrants, c. 1815–1842

chapter 4|21 pages

Foreign Sailors and Working-Class Communities

Race, Crime, and Moral Panics in London’s Sailortown, 1880–1914

chapter 5|20 pages

The “Greatest Traveller of Them All”

Rats, Port Cities, and the Plague in U.S. Imperial History (c. 1899–1915)

part II|156 pages

Urban-Maritime Space and Migrant Experiences

chapter 6|24 pages

“You Cannot Pass”

The Reception and Rejection of a Stranger in Helsingborg, 1744

chapter 7|19 pages

The Transit Stage as a Migratory Experience

The Syrians in Marseille (1880–1920)

chapter 8|23 pages

Migration, Maritime Labor, and Family

The Life Course of Carel Hendrik Bloebaum, 1848–1916

chapter 9|27 pages

Foreign Female Sex Workers in an Atlantic Port City

Elite Prostitution in Late Nineteenth-Century Antwerp

chapter 10|23 pages

Entangling the Past and the Present

The Place of Port Cities in Self-Narratives of German-Speaking Forty-Eighters

chapter |16 pages


What Do Histories of Migration Tell Us About Port Cities?