GaWC Project 101

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The Global City: Past and Present

Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2015-16)

Grant Holder: Emma Hart, Department of History, University of St Andrews


This project will bring together an international network of scholars to explore the connections between today's global cities and their early modern colonial precursors. The contemporary global city, an acknowledged urban phenomenon among social scientists, has become the focus of much research and policy-making. This is a type of city that both enables and embodies today's globalized world. Yet the historical processes that produced some of the foundational practices of the global city have been largely overlooked in current discussions. While the immediate historical context of such spaces is commonly addressed, what is missing is a solid understanding of the historical precedents of the global city. This omission is the result of little interaction between global studies scholars and urban historians, as well as among urban historians working in different regions, who rarely have the opportunity to share their research or collaborate with one another. By creating such opportunities, this project will both improve our understanding of the global city as a historical phenomenon and provide the means by which this knowledge can be exchanged with academics and policy-makers at work in today's global cities.

This network will be dedicated to exploring the connections between the early modern colonial city and the global processes that have produced the global city. Its goals are twofold. Firstly, the network will create a dialogue among historians of the first global cities - the hubs of the early modern British, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese empires. Secondly, it will encourage collaborations between historians, sociologists, urban planners, art historians, and geographers. The network will incorporate knowledge exchange with policy-makers at work in today's global cities. By promoting intellectual exchange and research collaboration, this project will combine the methodological wealth that each of the involved fields has to offer to produce a better understanding of the complex structures and problems that manifest themselves in today's global cities.

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