Resilience, Disaster, and Rebuilding in Modern Port Cities

Carola Hein, Dirk Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Resilience has become a buzzword used to describe the capacity of cities to bounce back after disasters. It carries the hope of a robust and more sustainable future. Disasters can strike any region, but port cities face complex and particular risks due to their location at the intersection of sea and land, and their role in an international maritime system. This introduction to the special section on resilience, disaster and rebuilding in modern port cities first examines resilience as a concept and course of action in a heterogenous theory landscape. It then explores different dimensions of resilience—environmental, economic, institutional, social and spatial—and their importance in port city historiography. The articles collected in this special section explore case studies from three continents. Together, they demonstrate that there is no such thing as the resilient (port) city. But, they also show that the combination of maritime and urban interests can lead to creative planning for resilience, particularly when port and city authorities pursue the same strategies. In view of contemporary challenges, this special section demonstrates the value of further research on port city resilience and vulnerability. The section raises an important question: Is it possible to balance the wide-ranging economic interests of port actors and their view of waters as sites for shipping with those of local actors concerned about water quality and ecosystems?

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Urban History
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • disaster
  • port cities
  • rebuilding
  • resilience
  • sustainability
  • vulnerability

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