BISA Historical Sociology Working Group Workshop
Birkbeck College, University of London
16 September 2013
This workshop explores the ways in which capitalism as a world-economy, as a mode of production and as a historical period has shaped and been shaped by the world’s oceans and inner seas. Considering that over 90% of the world’s trade in volume is carried by ship, maritime transport constitutes a core feature of contemporary capitalism. However, the centrality of seaborne trade to the world economy is not new; nor have sea-lanes merely acted as conduits for global commerce. Rather, over the past five centuries, the earth’s oceans have acquired distinctive socio-cultural, geopolitical and environmental value, in large measure as a result of capitalist development.
At the same time, despite covering over 70% of the earth’s surface, the world’s oceans have played a secondary role in the study of international relations. The territorial bias of our…
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