Oceanic and Maritime History Workshop


The Oceanic and Maritime History Workshop is a platform dedicated to historical research investigating human engagement with the sea. It is open to all time periods, geographical regions, or intellectual approaches, and we actively encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion, as well as transnational approaches. We invite postgraduate students to present both works in progress and completed projects, and the workshop itself is an excellent and inclusive environment in which to gain further experience in presenting, as well as responding to new ideas and questions.


The sea has undoubtedly played a diverse role within the human experience, and the Oceanic and Maritime History Workshop does not restrict itself to just histories on and of the sea but also shares histories in the sea, about the sea, around the sea, and because of the sea, therefore asking how the sea co-constituted history. Throughout human existence, the sea has been a geographical, political, legal, religious, and economic space, as well as a conduit of human thought and a historical agent in its own right.

Broadly speaking, the five expansive thematic umbrellas for the workshop are maritime Encounters, Spaces, Exchanges, Cultures, and Identities. Within these categories, some of the research agendas include the following: maritime ‘worlds’; the sea as a sacred space; maritime knowledge networks; the terraqueous globe; encounters that took place because of the sea; migration and trafficking of peoples; motions of objects and ideas; the subaltern sea; littoral and insular communities; diasporas; maritime identities; and environmental histories.

Format and Structure

The Oceanic and Maritime History Workshop typically meets online via Zoom on select Fridays of each term at 5pm. Zoom links are circulated via our mailing list and on an individual basis. Each session is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes long, and features two speakers, who present their research for fifteen to twenty minutes each. These presentations are linked by a coherent theme or research agenda, and are followed by a short Q&A. After the workshop, we typically continue the discussion in the nearby pub, The Anchor on Silver Street.


Michaelmas: 15 October, 5 November, 26 November.

Lent: 28 January, 11 February, 18 February, 11 March.

Easter: 13 May, 27 May, 10 June, 17 June.

Lent Term Card

13 May / Negotiating Blackness in Water Cultures

DIEGO ATEHORTÚA (University of Oxford)
'Watercolouring Blackness as Contagion in François-Désiré Roulin's Drawings of the first Republic of Colombia'
'Notes on the Agency of Black Mariners in Senegambia, 16th and 17th Centuries'

27 May / Early Modern Networks of Maritime Knowledge

IDA JORGENSEN (University of Portsmouth)
'The Knowledge Web: Naval Shipbuilding Knowledge Transfer in Eighteenth-Century Europe'
MICHAEL POWELL-DAVIES (University of Kent)
'Middling Culture and the Writing of People and Place in Early Modern Maritime London'

10 June / MPhil Presentation Session

BEN WILLIS (University of Cambridge)
‘One Ocean is Not Enough for America’: Forty-Eighters and American Imperialism, 1848–1852'

17 June / Contested Oceans in the Twentieth Century (please note a different time: 4pm BST)

KELVIN NG (Yale University)
'Itineraries of Self-Respect: Urban Sociality and Tamil Reform across the Indian Ocean, 1929–1940'
GENE T. KIM (Harvard University)
'King Crab Diplomacy: U.S., Soviet, and Japanese Crab Fleets and the Continental Shelf in the North Pacific, 1905–1965'

The full term card can also be seen here.

Contact and Information

For any questions, as well as to submit an abstract, please do not hesitate to contact us at camoceanichistory@gmail.com. Alternatively, you can contact one of the convenors directly: Jean-Marc Hill (jmh259@cam.ac.uk) and Lavinia Gambini (lg625@cam.ac.uk).

If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please email Jean-Marc Hill (jmh259@cam.ac.uk), or subscribe here.

Follow us on Twitter @CamOceanicHist.