Working lives between the deck and the dock: comparative perspectives on sailors as international labourers (16th-18th centuries)

The conference will examine the early modern maritime sector as an early example of an international labour market and it is conceived as an integral part of the project Sailing into Modernity: comparative perspectives on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European economic transition, funded by the European Research Council and led by Maria Fusaro with the assistance of Bernard Allaire, Richard Blakemore and Tijl Vanneste. More details on the project can be found at: http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/cmhs/research/sailing%20into%20modernity%20index.html

This ERC project is a comparative study of the contractual conditions and economic treatment of sailors active in the Mediterranean and aims to test the hypothesis that differences in the legal and financial treatment of sailors were one of the crucial factors in the ultimate success of northern European economies in their commercial penetration of the Mediterranean.

For the conference we would like to complement the project’s focus on Italy (Genoa and Venice), France, England and the United Provinces by widening the field to other nations commercially active in the Mediterranean (such as Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and Scandinavian countries) and other European Seas (such as the Baltic, North Sea and eastern Atlantic). Hoping to gain comparative insights we also welcome contributions that deal with these issues in other maritime regions around the globe in these centuries.

We are especially keen to include contributions based on new archival research that will directly engage with the main themes of the project:

  • sailors’ wages
  • contractual conditions
  • sailors’ litigation at home and abroad
  • sailors’ social and economic make-up
  • managing multi-national crews
  • information exchange in the maritime world

The conference will take place at the University of Exeter 10-12 September 2013, and we plan to publish a selection of the papers presented as a collective volume.We welcome submissions of paper proposals by the 30 December 2012. By this date please send to sailors-conference@exeter.ac.uk

a)    a 1000 words abstract of your proposed paper;

b)    a full CV with contact address.

We plan to shortlist by the beginning of February 2013, and we shall need electronic copies of the papers by the 31 July 2013.

If you have any questions about the conference please contact the organizing committee at sailors-conference@exeter.ac.uk

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Guillaume Calafat

Maître de conférences en histoire moderne (Université Paris 1). Membre du comité de rédaction de la revue Tracés.

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