Testimonial Vincent Baptist

PortCityFutures has been a fundamental building block for me from the very start of my PhD research, and continues to be a thriving, ever-growing platform that helps me navigate new opportunities as an early-career researcher and set up exciting collaborations for the years to come.

I first caught a glimpse of the inspiring breadth of topics, as well as the great interdisciplinary synergy, lying at the heart of PCF during a history conference at Erasmus University Rotterdam, when I had only just started my PhD a couple of months ago. During a lively session, core team members of PCF presented side by side on topics ranging from Rotterdam’s industrial landscape of petroleum heritage, the persistence of its ‘world port’ narrative, and the extensive local maritime education system that continues to support this port city’s competitive edge. The relevance and benefit of bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers in one room and under the PCF-umbrella was immediately clear to me: through intricate, network- and mapping-oriented, history-based research, the spatial, social and cultural layers of such a complex entity as a port city could only truly be accounted for, especially with an eye on rethinking and reintegrating its maritime and urban functions for a more sustainable and balanced future that will be dominated by sweeping environmental and urban changes.

Not long after that first conference panel, PortCityFutures started its monthly research meetings - open to everyone interested, and launched its website and accompanying research blog. Over the years, I have come to cherish those research meetings as great recurring moments of conversation and connection, each time packed with different inspiring perspectives from new scholars across the world who found their way to this research community. I also appreciate the many low-entry barrier opportunities that PCF has installed for junior scholars. I still vividly remember writing my first research blog for the website, and trying to articulate in less than 500 words the gist of what ultimately would become my PhD dissertation a couple of years later. In the meantime, PCF has established various other valuable initiatives, such as MOOCs and a new publication platform centered around water-related issues, which young researchers can especially benefit from.

Having transitioned into my current postdoc phase, I keep noticing how the cross-fertilization of disciplines within PCF - particularly, from history and anthropology to urban planning and design - continues to stimulate me to carve out new research pathways, and reach out to other colleagues who I know from the team meetings to set up new collaborative endeavors. I remember Carola Hein, PCF’s academic director, once describing our research center as ‘vessel’ for everyone to leverage from. If you are passionate about port city- and water-related research: don’t hesitate and come aboard!