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A World at Sea

A World at Sea
Maritime Practices and Global History

Edited by Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal

280 pages | 6 x 9 | 12 illus.
Cloth 2020 | ISBN 9780812252415 | $45.00s | Outside the Americas £37.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Early Modern Americas
View table of contents and excerpt

"Encompassing a vast array of methodological, geographical, and argumentative perspectives, A World at Sea makes a timely and important intervention into critical studies of seas, oceans, and empires in global history."—Philip Stern, Duke University
The past twenty-five years have brought a dramatic expansion of scholarship in maritime history, including new research on piracy, long-distance trade, and seafaring cultures. Yet maritime history still inhabits an isolated corner of world history, according to editors Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal. Benton and Perl-Rosenthal urge historians to place the relationship between maritime and terrestrial processes at the center of the field and to analyze the links between global maritime practices and major transformations in world history.

A World at Sea consists of nine original essays that sharpen and expand our understanding of practices and processes across the land-sea divide and the way they influenced global change. The first section highlights the regulatory order of the seas as shaped by strategies of land-based polities and their agents and by conflicts at sea. The second section studies documentary practices that aggregated and conveyed information about sea voyages and encounters, and it traces the wide-ranging impact of the explosion of new information about the maritime world. Probing the political symbolism of the land-sea divide as a threshold of power, the last section features essays that examine the relationship between littoral geographies and sociolegal practices spanning land and sea. Maritime history, the contributors show, matters because the oceans were key sites of experimentation, innovation, and disruption that reflected and sparked wide-ranging global change.

Contributors: Lauren Benton, Adam Clulow, Xing Hang, David Igler, Jeppe Mulich, Lisa Norling, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Carla Rahn Phillips, Catherine Phipps, Matthew Raffety, Margaret Schotte.

Lauren Benton is the Barton M. Biggs Professor of History and Professor of Law, Yale University.

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal is Associate Professor of History, Spatial Sciences, and Law at the University of Southern California.

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