CFP: Hakluyt Society Sumposium 2019: Rethinking Maritime Encounters 1400-1900, Leiden, 5-6 September 2019 (Deadline: 1 March 2019)

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Call for Papers

The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2019

Rethinking Power in Maritime History 1400-1900

5-6 September 2019

Leiden University, the Netherlands

Organised in collaboration with the Linschoten-Vereeniging, Itinerario, and Leiden University’s Institute for History

Deadline: 1 March 2019

Keynote: Joshua Reid (UW Seattle).

Speakers confirmed: 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).


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

Held in the historic city of Leiden, Rethinking Power in Maritime Encounters is organised by the Hakluyt Society in collaboration with the Linschoten-Vereeniging. Prospective speakers are invited to submit proposals of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers along with a brief bio statement to hakluytleiden2019@gmail.com by 1 March 2019. Contributions from postgraduate researchers are particularly encouraged.

The Hakluyt Society will make available five travel bursaries (up to £200 each) to postgraduate and early career applicants with limited access to funding – if you would like to apply for a bursary, please indicate this when sending your abstract and explain your reasons for applying. Reduced registration fees apply for members of the Hakluyt Society and Linschoten-Vereeniging.

Organising committee: Michiel van Groesen, Carolien Stolte, Suze Zijlstra (Universiteit Leiden), and Guido van Meersbergen (University of Warwick)