Although French research helped found international research on maritime history in the 1950s, today the situation is quite different. Anglo-Saxon economic maritime history in the English language has been structured through a network for the last twenty-five years. It has been able to harness international research, notably the research of Scandinavian, Mediterranean, and East-European researchers.
The Scientific Interest Group of Maritime History was created during a meeting on the 8th and 9th of September, 2005, which was held at Université de Bretagne Sud (Lorient). Statuses were prepared, notably the setting of financial terms, and the different teams submitted them to their respective scientific councils. The presidency of the SIG is at Université de Bretagne Sud in Lorient, however the SIG activities take place at the various partner universities.
The dynamics of this network forwarded in some way the marginalisation of French research. The atomization of our research hurt its visibility. The only answer we could find for this problem was the creation of a French Scientific Interest Group of Maritime History to federate all of the French researchers. In September 2005, this was settled during a meeting which took place at Université de Bretagne Sud on September 8 and 9, 2005. This step towards federation was welcomed by 22 institutions, 17 of which are universities (Littoral, Le Havre, Caen, Brest, Lorient, Nantes, Angers, La Rochelle, Bordeaux III, Montpellier, Aix-Marseille, Nice, Paris-Sorbonne, Paris VII, Tours, Rennes I ; Joint Service Unit (UMS) “Histoire et archéologie maritimes” of Paris-Sorbonne; the Joint Research Unit (UMR/MNHM 5196) of Ethnology ; the Centre François Viete of epistemology, history of sciences and techniques (Port history and technique team) of Nantes ; the Service historique de la Défense (SHD) (the Historical Service of the French Ministry of Defense, Naval department); the Musée de la Marine; and around 70 researchers. The SIG is reinforced by its Revue d’histoire maritime of Presses de l’université Paris-Sarbonne (PUPS), which we hope will be a long-term publication along side the Mariners’ Mirror and the International Journal of Maritime History.
The regularity and the geography of the SIG sessions provide for a dynamic network : Lorient (2005), Nantes and la Rochelle (2006), Musée de la Marine (Paris) and Lorient (2007), Bordeaux and Poitiers (2008), the Service historique de la Défense in Paris and Aix-Marseille (2009).