My project is a study of colonial port cities of Malacca (Melaka) and Havana from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Between Malacca and Havana there are obvious (and less obvious) parallels: both were drawn into the European network of trade and control at around the same time (Malacca was captured by the Portuguese in 1511, Havana was established in its current location by 1519). They were key nodes in networks of trade through the East and West Indies, respectively. Malacca offered access to the trade in spices of the East Indies, while Havana, was the geographic centre of the Spanish Caribbean and served as a staging port and storehouse for supply ships from Spain to the Americas. However, both these cities developed vibrant urban identities as well as being strategic trading posts. In terms of population, ethnic diversity, and cultural and intellectual life, each of them became a metropolis while part of a colonial network. These two cities can be seen as key nodes of Eastward and Westward European expansion, as well as key points in global trade. By the nineteenth century, each had its own identity and had developed in ways that were distinct from their origins as trade outposts.