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Conference | The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2019

Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters, 1400-1900

  • Joshua Reid (keynote speaker)
Thursday 5 September 2019 - Friday 6 September 2019
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

Maritime histories have always told stories about power. Whether in the form of narratives about mastery of the seas, conquest of lands, or enslavement of peoples, traditional accounts of enterprising explorers and hardy mariners have located power and agency with a limited groups of actors: almost always male, and predominantly European. In doing so, histories of maritime encounters have mostly reproduced the perspectives contained in their sources, foregrounding the actions of European men and casting other actors as largely passive, peripheral, or powerless. These histories are in need of revision. This conference seeks to explore new narratives of maritime power, to investigate the ways in which power was constituted and contested, how it was gendered and racialised, and through what strategies it was subverted or resisted. It aims to bring together historians working on (the limits of) state and non-state power, multiple actors and traditions of seafaring and exploration, and the agency of women, enslaved people, and other historically marginalised groups. Moreover, by expanding the focus to include environmental histories, this conference seeks to reconsider interrelations between humans and their marine surroundings.

This two-day conference will host senior experts and early career researchers in a cross-disciplinary conversation aimed at critically rethinking the role of power in maritime history. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Asymmetrical power relations
  • Global actors and agency
  • Writing and discursive power
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Maritime power and the environment
  • Materiality and maritime encounters
  • Maritime encounters and spatiality
  • Resistance, mutinies, rebellions
  • Slavery and maritime labour

Keynote: Joshua Reid (UW Seattle). Confirmed Speakers: Pepijn Brandon (VU), Nathalia Brichet (Aarhus), Kevin Dawson (UC Merced), Mariana de Campos Françozo (Leiden), John McAleer (Southampton), Elsje van Kessel (St. Andrews), Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge).

Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters is organized by the Hakluyt Society in collaboration with the Linschoten-Vereeniging, Itinerario and the Institute for History.



Please register via this link before 1 September 2019. The full registration fee is € 50,-. The fee for Hakluyt Society Members and Linschoten-Vereeniging members is € 25,-. Hakluyt Society student members do not need to pay a registration fee. Student members can register by emailing hakluytleiden2019@gmail.com; please include your membership number.

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