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Maritime History and Culture research

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 Semester 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. Patterns of demographic movement and change are also crucial markers of the human impacts of climate change.

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 Semester 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. SEA Senester 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

Caputi, C., 2017. Rainwater storage systems enhance freshwater supply in urban and rural Tonga. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-275, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Resetarits, H., 2017. The effect of colonization on Maori culture and New Zealand fisheries. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Stocker, L., 2016. Economic impacts of the Caribbean banana industry. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Homans, S., 2017. Maori health decline and health care inequality post-colonization in New Zealand. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

O'Connor, E., 2017. Grassroots environmental movements and deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Jortikka, A., 2017. Tourism and its impact on New Zealand. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Claytor, B., 2017. New Zealand sailing culture. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Savage, M., 2017. Is New Zealand Middle-earth? Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Wasmer, L., 2017. Native American and Maori adaptation to the European whaling industry. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Philips, E., 2017. Traditional medicine in the face of modernization. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Hughes, M., 2017. A nation at war: how war experiences in New Zealand differed from World War I to World War II. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Brito, K., 2017. Culture, history and politics of Maori forest land use. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Lippert, T., 2017. Comfortable water: rum and the legacy of sugar in the Caribbean. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-271, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Karsten, E., 2016. Western NGO's resilience and capacity building techniques in Pacific Islands. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Bernstein, A., 2016. Surf tourism and sense of place in the South Pacific. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Choudhury, T., 2016. Women in agriculture in Tonga and Fiji. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Ekern, W., 2016. The history of qoliqoli (clans) and ensuing environmental impacts. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA..

Blount, J., 2016. Western influences on the role of Samoan fa

Sieger, H., 2016. Women

Newmann, E., 2016. Cultural identity in Samoan, Fijian and Tongan post-colonial education systems. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Louis-Perkins, T., 2016. The necessity of Fijian language in traditional way finding. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Prunk, A., 2016. Indentured servants in Fiji: legacies and political implications. Unpublished student research paper, Class S-269, 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.

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

Presentations

Long, M.*, 2017. Building a better South: the maritime reconstruction of Florida. Costal Perspectives Series (invited speaker). University of Connecticut, Avery Point, CT.

Marin, C.*, 2017. Black maritime workers in early America: challenging slavery and shaping freedom then and now. Hudson River Maritime Museum (invited speaker), Kingston, NY.


* SEA faculty and staff
^ SEA Semester alumnus

News

SEA’s Dr. Richard King Traces Natural History of Moby-Dick (PLUS: Event Nov. 5 in Sandwich)

Posted on: October 24, 2019

SEA Semester in the NEWS
SCIENCE
“Looking beyond its literary merits, a historian traces the natural history of Moby-Dick”
By Christopher Kemp

Review of AHAB’S ROLLING SEA, a new book by Dr. Richard King, SEA Visiting Associate Professor of Maritime History and Literature.

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SEA Semester

SEA Receives Walter Cronkite Award

Posted on: November 05, 2018
By: Doug Karlson, communications@sea.edu

The National Maritime Historical Society presented Sea Education Association with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Maritime Education at an awards dinner held Thursday, Oct, 25th at the New York Yacht Club.

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SEA Semester

Elsaesser Fellow Michael Jacobson Updates Research in Taiwan

Posted on: March 05, 2018

SEA Semester alumnus Michael Jacobson (W-72), the recipient of the 2018 Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship award, is currently on Orchid Island, southeast of Taiwan, documenting the indigenous Tao people’s traditional boat building and fishing culture.  He recently sent us a brief update on his activities.

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SEA Semester

Michael Jacobson wins Elsaesser Award

Posted on: January 10, 2018
By: Doug Karlson, communications@sea.edu

SEA Semester alumnus Michael Jacobson (W-72) has been named as recipient of the 2018 Armin E. Elsaesser III Fellowship award.  Michael will use his award to travel to Orchid Island, southeast of Taiwan, to document the indigenous Tao people’s traditional boat building and fishing culture.  Photos and videos will be used to augment an exhibit at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington.

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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.

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Resources

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