Maritime History

Long the domain of naval officers and military historians, maritime history developed into a dynamic field of research following Fernand Braudel's seminal study "La Méditerranée et le Monde Méditerranéen à l'Epoque de Philippe II" (first edition 1949). Today, researchers understand the sea as a space that is both constituted by human activity and shaped by physical conditions. In doing so, they take conceptual cues from the spatial turn and in turn contribute to many fields of research, especially Transnational and Global History. There is a growing awareness that the ocean cannot be understood simply as a metaphor or as a medium of connectivity, but that researchers have to take the materiality of ocean space seriously and consider the role of non-human actors in historical processes.

The department of International History at Trier University contributes to these developments through projects as well as through engagement in larger research contexts such as the "Trier Institute for the Study of the Transfer of People, Goods and Ideas from Antiquity to the Present" (TRANSMARE). In addition, Eva Bischoff is leading a project on transoceanic history that links Atlantic history with the history of the Pacific/Oceania and focusses an aspect that has been neglected so far: the role of maritime economies in the emergence of the Anglophone settler colonies in Australasia during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She is also the convenor of the international conference “Australian Seascapes” (simultaneously the 17th Biennial Conference of the German Association for Australian Studies at Trier University, 30 September – 2 October 2021). Haureh Hussein reconstructs the socio-economic interaction space between exemplarily selected Euro-American whaling families and Māori in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of Aotearoas/New Zealand. Thomas Schira illuminates the reception of John Jewitt's "capitivity narrative," which first reported on his experiences in the maritime contact zone of Canada's Pacific coast in 1807.

Partner Institutions

  • Institut TRANSMARE — Trierer Institut zur Erforschung des Transfers von Menschen, Gütern und Ideen von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart
  • Australian Seascapes