For 45 years the yearly conferences organised by the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at Exeter have represented a unique privileged meeting ground between academics, local historians and the public interested in maritime and naval history. Thr
Maritime history is a concept that has been initiated by medievalists (whose work has been on the end of the Middle Ages) and by modernists. At least, those who claim to belong to the maritime field are mainly from these two academic fields. The idea is to work with the largest possible chronology, from Prehistory to today. The historians of the Contemporary Period do not often refer to the maritime field, which however is not indicative of disinterest in this field ; in fact, it is quite the contrary. Indeed, their numerous works are specific to thematic frameworks which are particularly fruitful : the history of businesses and capitalism in general, that of businesses in the building and public work sector, as well as in industries which are particularly present in ports: naval construction, food processing, chemistry; sectors involving the various players in the field (managers, bankers, engineers, stevedores and workers); the history of trade-union and work movements, of technical aspects, colonial history, and the history of tourism. Sustainable links should also be established with archaeologists. The conference on underwater archaeology, organised by Lorient in June 2009, with DRASSM, could be the prefiguration.
All levels should be considered. Indeed, maritime history has targeted the great, the vast, the far away, meaning large ports, long crossings, overseas territories, elite merchants, and officers. It has neglected the small ports that can be found between the large port centres. Moreover, although historiography provides a segmented history of the ocean coasts, the blanks still need to be filled in. Modest shipyards, coastal shipping, small-scale fishing, and coastal populations have been overlooked. Today, these are research fields that are being developed, notably those dealing with coastal shipping, small-scale fishing, and coastal populations.
Five years after the creation of the SIG (Scientific Interest Group of Maritime History) in 2005, we have signed of a four-year convention with the French national centre of scientific research (CNRS). It has also opened up a new era of subscriptions and semi-annual publications for the Revue d'Histoire Maritime.
It has also opened up a new era of subscriptions and semi-annual publications for the Revue d'Histoire Maritime.
by Gérard Le Bouëdec
Director of the Scientific Interest Group of Maritime History