The Datawheel, a Socio-Spatial Method for Understanding and Displaying Urban History: The Case of Port Cities

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


Port cities have astonishing capacity to both persist in their function and to adapt to new challenges, often water-related ones. This capacity is a quality of resilience (Hein, Schubert, 2020) that is often linked to past decisions. Path-dependent decisions have enabled many ports and cities to build up an evolutionary resilience (especially with regard to their relationship with shipping functions as partof their urban activities). The scientific debate on port cities and path dependency has so far relied heavily on institutional and governance aspects, while the role of physical space and historical investment in port and urban infrastructure, institutions and culture remains under-explored (Hein, Schubert, 2020). This paper posits that historical geo-spatial mapping and deep mapping methods can provide new insights into the role of shipping and port practices as they combine a thorough understanding of socio-spatial patterns, transitions and the long-term implications of policies and structures. Taking advantage of the vast number of longitudinal datasets recently digitized or undergoing digitization, this paper proposes a Datawheel methodology, with the aim of collecting existing knowledge and developing new knowledge, values, attitudes and preferences related to historic cities and their heritage. The proposed methodology aims to problematize our understanding of the past to both protect and develop historic cities in urban deltas based onlong-term comparative analysis. Its intent is to build greater awareness on the interconnection of ports and cities through time underscoring the role of socio-cultural development in shaping the future. The presentation argues that such a method can benefit early American studies by making historic data comparable.
Period12 Nov 2021
Event titleThe Americas Online: Thinking Digitally about Early America
Event typeConference