Pleasurescapes: Port Cities’ Transnational Forces of Integration

Where people have fun, encounter happens. Where encounters take place, change begins. Are pleasurescapes in port cities Europe’s true driving forces after all?

PLEASURESCAPES is a Humanities-led collaborative research project that explores the relations between public spaces, culture and integration by means of popular culture. We ask for the ways how public pleasurescapes in European port cities have unfolded cultural and social forces of integration in the past and present and thereby fostered traits of modern European urban practices.This project explores the relations between public spaces, culture and integration by means of popular culture in four port cities: Barcelona, Gothenburg, Hamburg and Rotterdam. Pleasurescapes mirror traits of European urbanization in an extraordinary way. They are transnational microcosms, representing conformity and rebellion at the same time. They are public zones of encounter and a melting pot for divergent classes, cultures and religions. In studying the past and present of European port cities’ pleasurescapes, we gain insights into Europe’s cultural pluralism and its exchange of knowledge, material, technologies, and practices.  

Leading questions are: to which extent and under which conditions pleasurescapes turned into nodes of integration, how they merged societal groups – and thereby possibly excluded others. We want to find out how societal negotiation processes in pleasure districts worked. Who is involved and who is excluded, and why? What was allowed and what forbidden? How are goods, services and knowledge distributed? Who sold, built, planned, inherited, gave away, exchanged or concealed, what was consumed in these public spaces of pleasure? When did innovations happen, when was continuity preferred?

Principal Investigator

  • prof.dr. (Paul) PT van de Laar

    prof.dr. (Paul) PT van de Laar

  • (Vincent) V Baptist MA

    (Vincent) V Baptist MA

    Vincent Baptist is a PhD Candidate at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication.His doctoral research is embedded within the European HERA-funded…

Subsidy en partners

  • Humanities in the European Research Area


  • HafenCity Universität Hamburg

  • Universitat de Girona

  • Stockholm University