Maritime Technologies, Human Worlds – deadline 30 May 2020

ss Great Britain hero shot, December 2017

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Date / time
Date(s) - 10 September - 12 September
All day


A conference at the Brunel Institute, SS Great Britain, Bristol, 10-12 September 2020

The Brunel Institute is a collaboration of the SS Great Britain Trust & University of Bristol.Throughout history, advances in navigation and seafaring have fundamentally changed society and economy on land. Major developments in marine vessels have catalysed the migrations, exchanges in commodities and resources and the cultural encounters that have shaped the human story. Maritime Technologies, Human Worlds seeks to explore these changes to societies, polities and economies created by revolutionary change at sea.

The conference invites submissions of new and emerging research that explores how migration, trade, discovery and encounters enabled by advances in marine vessels affected both the creating region and receiving regions of new technologies.

Examples might include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • changes in volume and directions of migration based on vessel changes;
  • changes in cultivation and production in sending and receiving regions;
  • changes in labour structure or political culture created by new vessel types;
  • revolutions in finance, insurance and investment mechanisms created by vessel change;-outcomes of displacement, acculturation or adaptation in receiving regions

The conference seeks papers on revolutionary marine technologies and their human impact during each of the following temporal contexts:

  • Prehistory,encompassing all geographies and societies in pre-written epochs;
  • Classical Antiquity,encompassing the rise of the Mediterranean basin until the fall of Roman Empire
  • Seafaring from 500CE to 1000CE,encompassing all global regions
  • Seafaring from 1000CE to 1500CE,encompassing all global regions
  • The Early Modern Era,encompassing the ‘age of discovery’ c. 1500s until 1800s
  • Modern Era, taken to be the 19th and early 20th centuries, encompassing transitions to steam

Marking 50 years since the return to Bristol of the SS Great Britain, each panel will be introduced by an institution representing a historic vessel of the period in focus. The conference represents an opportunity for historians and heritage specialists from across the world to work across temporal and regional contexts with a common theme, and for PhDs/ Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to make contact with specialists in their field.The conference will close with an address on the state of maritime technologies today, and their meanings for our future.

The conveners are committed to the representation of ECRs on each panel. A poster session will also be held for PhDs and ECRs who wish to display their early research questions and findings. Submissions of posters for each of the 6 panel eras are invited. PhDs and ECRs will also be entitled to apply for a limited number of travel and accommodation bursaries.

Proposals for 20 min. papers (max. 500 words) should be submitted by 30.05.2020.

Poster proposals (250 words describing project) should be submitted by 30.06.2020.

Please submit abstracts, including name, title and affiliation(s) to