Abstract The late nineteenth-century harbour districts, or so-called ‘sailortowns’, are generally depicted as deterritorialized ‘enclaves’ of heightened globalized transience. However, these neighbourhoods were just as much shaped by semi-durable local labouring communities. This article studies lodging houses as facilitators of global and local entanglements in harbour districts from a socio-cultural perspective, with Antwerp in the late nineteenth century as a case-study. Analysing the spatiality, materiality, sociability and people of the lodging phenomenon, it reveals that next to the highly transient seafarers, sailortown accommodated a diverse yet largely local population of small entrepreneurs and their families right between transience and permanence.

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