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Coastal Connections

Scientists describe coasts as contact zones, transition areas, spaces of exchange of resources and energy, places of tensions. If we look into the history of societies living by the ocean, all these elements are present too: the contacts, exchanges, resources, flows, conflicts, social, political and cultural plurality. This seminar series explores coasts and their complexities in a wide range of disciplinary, thematic, cultural and geographic contexts.

Thursdays, 14:00 GMT
James L. Smith (University College Cork), Tuba Azeem (Victoria University of Wellington), Melanie Bassett (University of Portsmouth), Elsa Devienne (Northumbria University), Xiaofei Gao (University of Colorado), Joana Gaspar de Freitas (University of Lisbon); Isaac Land (Indiana State University), David Worthington (University of the Highlands and Islands), Hannah Boast (University College Dublin) and Harrie Neal (University of York)

About the Seminar

Historians have proposed a host of new conceptual frameworks in the area of coastal history and coastal studies more broadly, from Michael Pearson’s “littoral societies” to Isaac Land’s “coastal history,” Alison Bashford’s “terraqueous history,” and John Gillis’ discussion of the ecotone in The Human Shore. All point towards the coast as a distinctive space, which fosters connections--whether human, ecological, or a mixture of both. Coasts connect, but their connections are endlessly diverse. They are sites of ports and harbours, they provide connections to nearby and faraway communities. For historians, coasts offer an opportunity to make connections between national histories that are too often treated as separate in the historiography. Yet connections can be interrupted, severed or fraught. National borders, physical elements, property lines can interrupt coastal ecologies and sunder coastal residents from each other. 

Coasts are also fundamentally interdisciplinary objects of research, they encourage historians to connect with a wide range of colleagues including geographers, anthropologists, ecologists, and oceanographers. Finally, as an increasing number of people recognise the role of coasts in constructing personal and community identities and heritage, they have become the subject of new museums--requiring close collaboration with public history professionals, governance and public spheres. “Coastal Connections” will take into account these different elements to showcase the variety of works pursued in the interdisciplinary field of coastal studies, and highlight the many connections formed at the water’s edge.

Image: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Japan

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