The past twenty-five years have brought a dramatic expansion of scholarship in maritime history, including new research on piracy, long-distance trade, and seafaring cultures. Yet maritime history still inhabits an isolated corner of world history, according to editors Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal. Benton and Perl-Rosenthal urge historians to place the relationship between maritime and terrestrial processes at the center of the field and to analyze the links between global maritime practices and major transformations in world history.
A World at Sea consists of nine original essays that sharpen and expand our understanding of practices and processes across the land-sea divide and the way they influenced global change. The first section highlights the regulatory order of the seas as shaped by strategies of land-based polities and their agents and by conflicts at sea. The second section studies documentary practices that aggregated and conveyed information about sea voyages and encounters, and it traces the wide-ranging impact of the explosion of new information about the maritime world. Probing the political symbolism of the land-sea divide as a threshold of power, the last section features essays that examine the relationship between littoral geographies and sociolegal practices spanning land and sea. Maritime history, the contributors show, matters because the oceans were key sites of experimentation, innovation, and disruption that reflected and sparked wide-ranging global change.
Contributors: Lauren Benton, Adam Clulow, Xing Hang, David Igler, Jeppe Mulich, Lisa Norling, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Carla Rahn Phillips, Catherine Phipps, Matthew Raffety, Margaret Schotte.
Introduction. Making Maritime History Global Nathan Perl-Rosenthal and Lauren Benton
Part I. Currents
Chapter 1. Why Did Anyone Go to Sea? Structures of Maritime Enlistment from Family Traditions to Violent Coercion Carla Rahn Phillips
Chapter 2. Between the Company and Koxinga: Territorial Waters, Trade, and War over Deerskins Adam Clulow and Xing Hang
Chapter 3. "The Law Is the Lord of the Sea": Maritime Law as Global Maritime History Matthew Taylor Raffety
Part II. Dispatches
Chapter 4. Reading Cargoes: Letters and the Problem of Nationality in the Age of Privateering Nathan Perl-Rosenthal
Chapter 5. Sailors, States, and the Creation of Nautical Knowledge Margaret Schotte
Chapter 6. Indigenous Maritime Travelers and Knowledge Production David Igler
Part III. Thresholds
Chapter 7. Maritime Marronage in Colonial Borderlands Jeppe Mulich
Chapter 8. Sovereignty at the Water's Edge: Japan's Opening as Coastal Encounter Catherine Phipps
Chapter 9. Working Women Who Got Wet: A Global Survey of Women in Premodern and Early Modern Fisheries Lisa Norling
Afterword. Land-Sea Regimes in World History Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal
Notes Index List of Contributors Acknowledgments
Lauren Benton is the Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law, Yale University. Nathan Perl-Rosenthal is Associate Professor of History, Spatial Sciences, and Law at the University of Southern California.
"A World at Sea explores several neglected aspects of the period while also refreshingly venturing outside of the series’ traditional geographic focus on the Atlantic World. In their shared aim of placing maritime practices at the centre of world history, the contributors to this fine collection of essays propose a useful and convincing conceptual framework for maritime world history based on the study of land-sea regimes."—Histoire sociale/Social History
"This volume is a clear example of an edited collection that is more than the sum of its parts. While the tone of each chapter is varied and individual – some are narrative, some are tightly focused on a particular region or event, others aim at broader theorizations – the variety does not detract from the argument, and in fact adds interest for the reader. It is an essential book for moving the field of global history in a direction that does not neglect power, while also pushing to provincialize Europe and examine the (unequally) shared role of non-European actors in the creation of the modern world."—Connections
"Encompassing a vast array of methodological, geographical, and argumentative perspectives, A World at Sea makes a timely and important intervention into critical studies of seas, oceans, and empires in global history."—Philip Stern, Duke University