Maritime History & Culture Seminars at the IHR

Essential information

Date and time: 
26 October, 14 November, 12 December, 23 January, 20 February, 24 April, 19 June 22 May | 5.15/ 5.30pm
Talks & courses

Maritime History & Culture Seminars at The Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, London WE1E 7HU




Convenors: Aaron Jaffer and Lizelle de Jager

All seminars begin at 17:15 in Wolfson Room I at the Institute, except: 26 October – Chancellor’s Hall at 17:30

Autumn Term 2017

26 October

Professor Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh

The Maritime Origins of Abolition: The Case of Benjamin Lay, Quaker and 'Common Sailor'

Marcus Rediker is Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh and author of The Many-Headed Hydra (2000, with Peter Linebaugh), Villains of All Nations (2004), The Slave Ship (2007), and most recently The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist (2017).

14 November

Ian Murphy, National Museums Liverpool

Curating the ‘Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors’ exhibition

Ian Murphy, Deputy Director & Curator, will speak about curating this ground-breaking exhibition.

12 December

The last object in the museum

Jack Avery, University of Bristol & The National Archives

Julia Binter, University of Oxford

Callum Easton, University of Cambridge  

Katherine Gazzard, National Portrait Gallery & University of East Anglia

Anna McKay, University of Leicester

Hannah Stockton, Queen Mary, University of London

Maya Wassell Smith, University of Cardiff

Spring Term 2018

23 January 2018

Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, University of Oxford

On the Ocean: The Mediterranean and the Atlantic from Prehistory to AD 1500                                                                         

20 February 2018

Dr Caroline Withall, National Maritime Museum

The forgotten boys of the sea: Marine Society merchant sea apprentices, 1772-1854

Summer Term 2018

24 April 2018

Laika Nevalainen, European University Institute

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From sailors’ chests to sailors’ homes: Finnish seamen and domesticity in the early 20th century

The life of a merchant seaman was filled with hours of difficult and dangerous labour but what did sailors do besides work and how did they spend their free time? Historian Laika Nevalainen will focus on the lives of Finnish sailors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exploring their everyday routines, their living conditions, what they ate and what they kept in their sea chests. 

The seaman’s chest was particularly important to domestic life aboard ship since, in the words of a former sailor, ‘if one had not had one’s seaman’s chest one would have been quite homeless. On it one sat, on it one ate and in it one had all of one’s possessions.’

This talk will also examine sailors’ homes ashore. These institutions, which provided domestic comfort and Finnish food, were founded to prevent sailors getting ‘morally shipwrecked’ and remind them of their responsibilities to their families and their homeland. Nevalainen’s research also provides many important parallels with other Western merchant sailors of the same period.

22 May 2018

Daniel Simpson, Royal Holloway & The British Museum

‘Cannibals’, ‘Savages’ and pronouns: the strange world of British naval encounter in Australia and the Torres Strait, 1842-1850’ 

19 June 2018  

Professor Andrew Lambert, King’s College London

Constructing the seapower state: culture, identity and exceptionalism