Re-thinking the spatial politics of global urbanization processes: the contested relationalities of port cities past and present

Dr Lazaros Karaliotas, Dr Andy Davies, and Dr Matina Kapsali

Funding period: 1 December 2021 – 1 November 2022
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Host institutions: School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (UK), School of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), and School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow (UK)
Dates: May 2022 (Thessaloniki), September 2022 (Liverpool), and December 2022 (Glasgow)
Lead organisers: Dr Lazaros Karaliotas (lead organiser, Lecturer in Urban Geography, University of Glasgow), Dr Andy Davies (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Liverpool), and Dr Matina Kapsali (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Team member: Dr David Featherstone (Reader in Human Geography, University of Glasgow)
Contact: Dr Lazaros Karaliotas

Port Cities Website

Abstract: This seminar series aims to contribute to debates around global urbanization, decolonialization and the (urban) political by using the contested relationalities of port-cities in both the past and present as distinctive entry points into the exclusions and spatial politics of global urbanization processes. The series will historicize, situate and politicize debates around global urbanization by tracing different aspects of the contested trajectories and interconnections of port-cities. Having historically served as key nodes in world-making processes driven by the forces of capital and empire, port-cities are today re-ordered again as part of extensive migration flows and the mega infrastructure projects and the intricate logistics networks that shape and maintain contemporary global urbanization. Simultaneously, their articulation with maritime networks and the flows of people and ideas they facilitate has diachronically posited port-cities as key sites for negotiating racialized relations, enabling multi-ethnic encounters and trans-local connections, as well as the forging of different forms of solidarity, political agency and antagonism. Bringing together an inter-disciplinary and international group of scholar, practitioners and activists the series will host three workshops – in Liverpool, Thessaloniki and Glasgow – which will provide distinctive cuts through which we can better grasp and theorize the spatial politics and global dynamics of urbanization processes as well as decolonize geography and urban studies curricula.

The themes of the three workshops are as follows:

Workshop 1 (Liverpool): The spatial politics of port-cities, maritime labour struggles, and decolonization.
Workshop 2 (Thessaloniki): The politics of infrastructure and emancipatory political Infrastructures.
Workshop 3 (Glasgow): Port-cities and decolonizing geography and urban studies curricula.


In addition to the USF Seminar Series Grant, Dr Lazaros Karaliotas, Dr Andy Davies, along with Dr David Featherstone and Dr. Christos Mais also received a USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award in April 2024 (see below).

USF Knowledge Mobilisation Award: Narrating port-cities from below: Communities, Solidarities, Politics

‘Narrating port-cities from below: Communities, Solidarities, Politics’ is a podcast series that builds on the insights stemming from the USF-funded seminar series, “Re-thinking the spatial politics of global urbanization processes: The contested relationalities of port cities past and present.” By adopting the perspective of ‘history from below,’ this series aims to provide an alternative narrative of port-cities, spotlighting the stories and voices of marginalized communities historically neglected in official records. Through collaborations with community organizations and grassroots initiatives in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Thessaloniki, the podcast series will narrate the histories of these port-cities, centering on the agency and everyday experiences of their diverse inhabitants. The series seeks to unveil the politics inherent in global urbanization processes, shedding light on issues of racialization, exclusion, and the forging of multi-ethnic solidarities. The series consists of five podcasts: one dedicated to each one of these key historical port-cities, an introduction and a conclusion. By narrating these stories in collaboration with local communities, the podcasts ensure ownership and authenticity, fostering inclusivity and diverse perspectives. The podcast format facilitates accessibility and engagement, transcending traditional barriers to knowledge dissemination. Overall, this podcast series seeks to serve as an important resource for understanding the past and present of port-cities, aligning with efforts to decolonize narratives around urbanization by foregrounding the voices of neglected actors. It will not only enrich academic discourse but also empower communities and citizens by highlighting the diverse realities and activities that shape urban experiences.