The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of British Columbia will convene a conference entitled The Age of Sail, 1450–1850, on October 7–9, 2010, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
For humankind the ocean is a hostile environment. Yet between 1450 and 1850 the discovery that all the seas were one and the projecting of economic and political power on a global scale reshaped the course of history. In the process, this dangerous and poorly understood place, where people could venture but never remain, came to occupy a pivotal position in human affairs. The Age of Sail will bring together scholarship on the history of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans across the early modern period’s cultural, social, economic, political, and environmental dimensions. The papers that comprise the program will examine the impact of the ocean environment on world history, in sessions that focus on the question of European hegemony over the seas, the experience of seafaring labor and the boundaries of the maritime community, the role of sailors in the investigation and spread of maritime knowledge, the ocean and its coastal waters as commons, and private and state-sponsored violence at sea. Daniel Vickers of the University of British Columbia will open the proceedings, and Marcus Rediker, Michael Pearson, and Paul D’Arcy—experts on the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans respectively—will provide summary remarks at the conference’s concluding plenary session.