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Maritime Migrations: Transfers and Displacements in Britain’s and Australia’s Nineteenth-century Exchange

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Prof Simon J. Potter , Dr John McAleer No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project examines the role played by empires, oceans, and trans-national maritime networks in laying the foundations for modern processes of globalisation, deploying a range of methods and approaches from within and beyond the discipline of History. The student will examine how intersections between maritime networks, markets and states shaped migratory transfers and displacements between Britain and Australia in the 19th century. Research will be grounded in the collections of the SS Great Britain Trust. The project seeks to overcome the ‘blue hole’ – the often absent factor of maritime forces – in our historical understanding of the ways in which populations, commodities, markets and ecosystems interacted with and confronted one another. Candidates are encouraged to interrogate the ways in which maritime agents – ship owners, brokers, recruiters, global merchants – worked to influence migratory transfer of people, markets in material goods, flora, fauna and ecosystems, and/or symbiosis among these.

Over-arching research questions might include:

• How, and to what extent, did 19th-century maritime networks shape later patterns of globalisation?

• How did trade networks cultivated to support ships like the ss Great Britain shape contemporary processes of migration and ecological transplantation?

Supervisors anticipate that candidates may develop further specific questions, based on one aspect of migration and transfer (for example human, ecological or economic) within the evidence available. However, the PhD project must contextualise that aspect within the wider framework of maritime networks of exchange. Candidates may compare different networks of maritime agents or analyse a single network which had a particularly significant impact. Primary and secondary source material is readily available, and to facilitate large-scale and intricate analyses of networks of exchange, digital tools developed by the Trust to advance museums-based source analysis will be utilized.

These include network-graphing software, developed by the Jean Golding Institute (University of Bristol) and the Trust, to examine and demonstrate historical communities of innovation, as well as text-recognition software used in the Trust’s historical research on handwritten material. Other academics and visitors to the HEI and non-HEI partnership will form a supportive community of scholars from a range of disciplines. The supervisors therefore anticipate an immersive, interdisciplinary environment in which the management, interrogation, and interpretation of source material supports multiple pathways to discovery.

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