Dockland Encounters

The high walls of docks frame an initial point of contact between local and foreign peoples and goods, but what kinds of encounters do these spaces enable?

Docks are important to studies of transnational and domestic relations from the nineteenth century to the present day. In the nineteenth century, colonial conquests, inward and outward migration, and the development of surrounding urban and maritime environments all contributed to making docks central to cultural and economic transactions between nations. Docks were also sites of contact between different social groups. Wealthy merchants, a hierarchically organised gamut of skilled and unskilled workers, convict labourers, migrants, bourgeois social explorers, and prostitutes, were brought together around the docks, and these sites became the stage for class struggles and protests. In the twentieth century, the development of new technologies, containerisation, and the redevelopment of docklands has left a legacy of local social problems. Globally, too, docks are significant to the current refugee crisis, as vast numbers of migrants struggle to find safe harbours, or are encamped next to docks in temporary shelters.
This one-day interdisciplinary symposium will explore the significance of docks and their neighbouring city- and sea-scapes to wider cultural anxieties about the global movement of people and goods, and the permeability of international borders in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Please contact Jo Robinson ( with any further questions.


9.30 Registration
10.00 Welcome from Richard Mc Cormick, President of the Maritime Institute of Ireland
10.30 Panel One: Flows
John Brannigan (UCD), ‘Down by the Docks: Late Modernist Fictions of Irish Sea Ports’
Niamh Moore-Cherry (UCD), ‘A space of flow and flux: 21st century Dublin Docklands’
12.00 Lunch and opportunity to look around the museum
1.30 Panel Two: Transitions
Silvia Loeffler (Dublin Port Perspectives), ‘Deep Mapping the Docks as Transitional Space: An Artistic Cartography’
Anthony Geraghty (Lt Cdr, Irish Naval Service), ‘Irish Naval Service Operations in Mediterranean’ 
3.00 Tea/Coffee
3.30 Panel Three: Work
Connal Parr (Northumbria), ‘Queen’s Island’s (Often Unemployed) Trojans: The ambivalent Belfast docklands’
David Featherstone (Glasgow), ‘Decolonisation, Spaces of Dockside Encounter and Subaltern Agency’
5.00 Roundtable
6.00 Drinks reception
7.00 Dinner at the National Yacht Club (€30 set menu, at own expense)

This event is funded by the UCD Humanities Institute and a UCD Research Seed Funding Award.