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Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos 2018

26-28 September 2018, Zhoushan, China

Conference theme:

Islands, Resources, Tourism, and Society

Sustainable Development under Globalization and New Urbanization

This international, interdisciplinary conference brings together researchers from across the globe to explore the role of islands and archipelagos in our increasingly urbanized and globalized world.

Even in ancient times, humans engaged in long-distance migration, trade, and cultural exchange, yet today the pace and scope of change are increasing as never before. Global processes such as climate change, cultural diffusion, advances in information technology, international tourism, circulation of finance, and long-distance shipping and logistics are affecting continental world cities and remote island communities alike.

Neil Brenner speaks of a ‘planetary urbanization’ that draws the entire world into urban processes. Islands are experiencing increasing flows of inward and outward migration, as residents come and go in search of skilled or unskilled work, education, higher quality of life, or simply new experiences. Mainland cities depend on the resource-rich waters, soils, wetlands, and associated ecosystem services of many island environments.

Island destinations for mass tourism, adventure tourism, nature tourism, and cultural tourism are producing specialized tourism landscapes and built environments. As the forces of ‘development’ make themselves felt in even the most remote island communities, modern cities are constructed on the basis of mainland capital and expertise. Some resource-rich or politically innovative islands serve as financial powerhouses in the globalized economy, projecting capital investment out from islands and into the wider world; conversely, other islands serve as tax havens, attracting and storing mainland wealth, sometimes with problematic results for local and overseas publics. Some formerly peripheral islands are even transforming into major urban centres, with diverse yet explosive development transforming today’s Pearl River Delta and Ganges Delta regions at a speed and to an extent that dwarf even the fantastic growth of urban archipelagos within the Hudson River Estuary and the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta in centuries past. Even in predominantly rural archipelagos, major population centres are increasingly important, as rising interconnectedness with the outside world enhances the roles of island towns and cities as transport hubs, administrative centres, and providers of urban services and functions. Yet at the same time as islands and islanders are gaining renewed significance, it is commonly held that islands are under increasing threat from global environmental and economic challenges. Some islands remain impoverished relative to more powerful mainland neighbours, and the alleviation of island inequalities is an important aspect of, for instance, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This conference considers the roles and realities of islands in this age of globalization and urbanization as well as how we might envision sustainable island futures. What natural, social, political, financial, and human resources do islands contribute to global flows? Can an ecosystem services approach help us better value islands in the 21st Century, or should we seek to protect island peoples and environments from global markets? Can islands take on central roles in world systems without losing the insular characteristics that make them special? Can island cities simultaneously be global economic, political, and cultural leaders and contribute to local and global sustainability? Can small islands maintain local traditions in an age of global entertainment and cultural diffusion? Do resource-rich islands have a special responsibility to support wider sustainable development, or does the often-vulnerable nature of island communities justify islanders taking a locally oriented approach to sustainability?

For more information, contact conference coordinator Aki Høegh-Dam (

Keynote speakers:

Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta)

Manulani Aluli Meyer (University of Hawaii, West Oahu)

Luisa Del Giudice (Public Folklorist)

Yue Wu (Zhejiang University)

Stephen J. Walsh (University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill)

About Zhoushan.

Zhoushan is China’s largest coastal archipelago. The archipelago is regarded as peripheral and remote yet is just offshore from the major cities of Ningbo, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. On account of its spectacular scenery and sacred island of Putuoshan, Zhoushan has been a popular tourism destination for nature and religious tourism for centuries. Zhoushan is home to China’s largest fishery, yet the islands have also become a major innovation and shipping hub, with the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan representing the busiest harbour in the world by tonnage. A place of beauty and dynamism, secluded isles and bustling cities, holy mountains and industrial parks, Zhoushan exemplifies the archipelago in the globalized age.


About the conference.

Conference presentations will be held on 26-27 September at Zhejiang University’s Ocean College on Zhoushan Island. On 28 September, delegates will have the opportunity to explore the wider archipelago on a visit to the sacred Buddhist island of Putuoshan. Further activities will be arranged for interested delegates on 29 September. Transport will be provided for foreign delegates to and from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. The organisers will assist delegates with accommodation (around 400 Danish kroner per night) and visas.


Presenters are invited to submit papers for consideration at one the following online, open access journals: Urban Island Studies or Island Studies Journal. Because all papers are subject to peer review, publication is not guaranteed. There is no deadline for submission.

This conference is a collaboration of:

Island Dynamics

Ocean College, Zhejiang University

Department of Architecture & Planning, Zhejiang University

Zhejiang Putuo Economic Development Zone

College of Planning, Zhejiang University of Technology

Zhoushan Committee for Housing & Urban and Rural Construction

Zhejiang Academy of Marine Tourism


Adam Grydehøj (Island Dynamics) • Ruan Xiao (Ocean College)