• Like Sea Education Association on Facebook
  • Follow Sea Education Association on Twitter
  • Follow SEA Semester on Instagram
  • Watch Sea Education Association on YouTube
  • Read SEA Currents
  • Listen to SEA Stories
  • View SEA Semester campus visit calendar
Maritime History and Culture

Maritime History and Culture

Human activities near, on and within the oceans have drawn considerable attention from scholars, particularly in the contexts of global commerce, travel, resource conservation and climate change. Interests range from the movement of goods, ideas and people across oceans to the literature, art and folkways inspired by the sea, to the social fabric of communities intimately connected to the water. Through visits to port cities, coastal settlements and small islands, SEA Semester introduces students to current challenges facing communities struggling to preserve cultural mores and spaces in the face of market pressures and environmental change. Drawing upon personal interviews, museum archives, site visits, primary documents and other research approaches, students explore their voyage region’s history across numerous multidisciplinary themes and the sometimes contentious relationship between "traditional" and contemporary knowledge and practices.

Research Themes

Sea Education Association Research

Colonial legacies

Many of the areas visited by SEA vessels are former colonies, now either fully independent or autonomous. The impacts of resource extraction and cultural mixing are key elements of their modern maritime infrastructure and culture. Student research focuses on histories of natural and human resource exploitation, and the visible and otherwise discernable evidence of such activities’ lasting impacts.

Selected Colonial legacies papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Cultural identity

Social, economic and political intrusions sustained by maritime communities over the last several centuries have led to moments of cultural erasure while also providing novel opportunities for (re)definition of self and society on local terms. SEA students examine the various ways maritime peoples engage with essential questions of human cultural identity. These include indigenous movements; the role of history in shaping contemporary self-image; and the opportunities and obstacles presented by new ideas, emergent technologies and social networks as means to define and redefine local connections to the sea, to each other and to the wider world.

Selected Cultural identity papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Demographic patterns

Forced and voluntary migrations into and out of maritime communities, including extended coastal regions and small islands, have important influences on local demographics and culture. Population concentration in urban maritime environments is a common trend; the degree to which these patterns affect community standards of living and economic outlooks are assessed within the context of colonial history.

Selected Demographic patterns papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Rise of the tourism industry

For many maritime communities, the 20th century brought a shift away from production or extraction industries and towards service industries associated with tourism. The rise of the popular notion that recreation in a marine environment is feasible and desirable has led to dramatic increases in both tourist-oriented activity and infrastructure that facilitates use of the seashore and coastal waters as vacation destinations. Across our varied port stops, SEA Semester students examine the degree to which tourism transforms maritime communities, as well as the impacts of those transformations.

Selected Rise of the tourism industry papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Technology and development

The story of human interaction with the sea is one of ever-changing technology designed to increase the accuracy, speed and efficiency of moving goods, transferring information or extracting valued items from the ocean. SEA students study advances in navigational technology from early celestial navigation to modern GPS, as well as increased ship size and capacity for transport, fishing and other extraction activities. These technological advances tie into issues of sustainability, growth of seaports and economic development.

Selected Technology and development papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Trade

In order to understand maritime communities’ place in the larger history of human events since the early modern period, it is essential to examine the what, who, why and how of the movement of goods across water over time. Students investigate the regional impacts of trade, exploring the varied ways in which a trajectory of ever-increasing efficiency in water transport affects both large and small communities.

Selected Trade papers and publications

Papers and Publications

Selected student research

Kaufman, N., 2015. From Canoes to Cruise Ships: Auckland's Development as a Port City. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Clemens, M. and M. Silvia, 2015. The Two Towers of New Zealand: Economy and National Identity in a Post-Peter Jackson World. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Wooster, S., 2015. The Evolution and Crucial Place of the Art of Pilotage. Unpublished student research paper, C-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Tyrrell, S., 2015. A Broken Record: The Cyclical Trend of Imperialism in the Caribbean. Unpublished student research paper, C-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Rubinstein, E., 2015. Thrown to the Sharks: Public Awareness in the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Unpublished student research paper, C-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Brill, K., 2015. Caribbean Architecture as a Designation of Cultural Identify and International Influence. Unpublished student research paper, C-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Beard, S., 2015. The Development of the Jewish Caribbean Community in Relation to the Emergence of the Sugar Plantation Complex. Unpublished student research paper, C-257, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Velez, M., 2014. The Diagram of the Slave Ship Brooks. Unpublished student research paper, C-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Lubetkin, M., 2014. Pedro de Medina’s The Arte of Navigation (1554). Unpublished student research paper, C-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Hayward, E., 2014. Port Cities: The Vital Heartbeat of Island Nations. Unpublished student research paper, C-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Davis, W., 2014. The Big Stink about Extinction: The Changing Commodification of Whales from Commercial Whaling to Ecotourism. Unpublished student research paper, C-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Sehrer, K., 2014. The Influence of Port Traffic on Biosecurity Policy Effectiveness. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Morneault, K., 2014. Shed 10: Demonstrating a Changing Waterfront. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Hruby, K., 2014. Maori Cultures in New Zealand Ports: Imperial Reign and the Succession of Traditions. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Grenier, B., 2014. Maori Headhunting: The Reclamation of the Ta Moko Culture. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-256, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Gutowski, C., 2014. Tourism in Samoa and Fiji: Culture Commodification and Preservation of the Past. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-255, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Motluk, K., 2014. If You Can't Stand the Heat: Cultural Tourism and the Impact on Fijian Firewalking. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-255, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Seely, J., 2014. "They Don't Have a Clue What Kind of Problems We Leave Behind": Sub-Saharan African Immigration Into Southern Spain. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-255, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Moriarty, S., 2014. An Unstable Necessity: Island Trade in French Polynesia. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-251, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Koss, S., 2013. Va'a Paddles: The Evolution of Propulsion Strategy. SPICE Atlas student research paper, Class S-245, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Smith, J., 2013. Analyzing Historic Nuku Hivan Tribal Boundaries and Dynamics. SPICE Atlas student research paper, Class S-245, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Liu, L., 2013. Language in the Marquesan Landscape: The Role of French and Marquesan. SPICE Atlas student research paper, Class S-245, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Ogus, R., 2012. She Said, He Said, We Said, They Said: The Necessity of Maroon Oral Histories in the Analyses of Historical Events. Unpublished student research paper, C-244, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Bockelman, C., 2012. Longitude: A Problem and a Solution. Unpublished student research paper, C-244, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Bosco, M., 2012. Early Missionaries in Tahiti. SPICE Atlas student research paper, Class S-239, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Gramolini, A., 2011. Polynesian Migration. SPICE Atlas student research paper, Class S-233, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.


* SEA faculty and staff
^ SEA Semester alumnus

News

The Global Ocean: New Zealand

Kowabunga in Whangaroa!

Posted on: December 04, 2015
By: Erin Jones, B Watch, Mount Holyoke College

The Robert C. Seamans sailed smoothly into Whangaroa Bay late this morning and anchored with a stunning 360-degree view of basalt rock formations, calm Pacific waters, and green treetops. The wave protection here is outstanding; I don’t think we’ve been in such calm waters even when previously at anchor. One of the rock formations in view is known as The Duke’s Nose, named after the Duke of Wellington during the period of overwhelming European influence.

Read More

The Global Ocean: Europe

The Ruins of Baelo Claudia

Posted on: October 20, 2015
By: Oscar Tsao, Stonehill College

So far, today has been yet another cloudy (and occassionally rainy) day for us in Cadiz. On the bright side, the sun has shined through every now and then as the afternoon progresses. Much like the past few days, a little rain won’t stop us today!

At 0900 this morning, we hopped on a bus and made our way down to the ancient Roman city, Baelo Claudia, located a little bit west from the Strait of Gibraltar. Baelo has long been abandoned but luckily, some its ruins have been excavated, allowing us to travel back in time to learn about this once very important Roman city.

Read More

Historic Seaports of Western Europe

Places by the Sea

Posted on: July 16, 2015
By: Shlomit Auciello, A Watch, College of the Atlantic

“Ports … places by the sea … they’re places of mixing, mixing and mingling.” –Prof. Dan Brayton

Last night we slept alongside the massive concrete dock on the Port de Rosmeur at the north end of this enchanting town. After rigging a gangway from lashed wooden 4x4s, the crew tested the somewhat rusty ladder that allows mariners to access land in tides that range more than ??? feet, and we began our investigations.

Read More

The Global Ocean: New Zealand

Greetings from Russell

Posted on: February 17, 2015
By: Maravilla Clemens, A Watch, Colby College

I have the good fortune to be writing this from the bow of our ship the Robert C. Seamans, nestled down with some tea and overlooking the sunset. The boat is blanketed in the kind of quiet that only follows a full day of adventure and excitement. This morning we rose before the sun to catch the ferry to Waitangi across the bay. By the time we arrived the sun was out and shining for our stroll to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where we reunited with two of our dinner guests from last night—Mori Rapana, a man who has vast knowledge concerning Maori history and tradition, and his mentor Matua Wiremu Williams, a Maori elder whose openness and insight never ceased to amaze us.

Read More

The Global Ocean

Using the Ocean Health Index

Posted on: October 08, 2014
By: Mary Malloy, Ph.D., Professor of Maritime Studies

Barcelona and Mallorca
We have finished our first two port stops and put to sea again for a nine-day stretch through the Straits of Gibraltar to our next stop at Cadiz, on the Atlantic coast of Spain.  This gives us some time to ponder what we’‘ve learned and start to put it together in papers and daily discussions on the ship. Our program, “The Global Ocean,” is built around the Ocean Health Index, a series of ten metrics designed by conservation organizations to consider how we might begin to measure human impacts on coastal areas and the marine environment.

Read More

Resources

For more information about research at Sea Education Association, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)