Note: For a full list of publications, please see the CV page.
The Merchant Ship in the British Atlantic, 1600–1800:
Continuity and Innovation in a Key Technology
I’m happy to announce two books coming out in 2020. One is an edited collection to which I have contributed a chapter, and the other is my first monograph.
My first monograph, The Merchant Ship in the British Atlantic, 1600–1800: Continuity and Innovation in a Key Technology, will be published by Brill, as a volume in their Technology and Change in History series, edited by Adam Lucas and Steven A. Walton.
The publisher’s page for the monograph may be accessed here. (Link will open in a new window.) As of 13 February, the publication date is listed as 23 July. If that changes, I will update this page accordingly.
The entire series may be viewed here.
Cultural Economies of the Atlantic World:
Objects and Capital in the Transatlantic Imagination (edited collection)
The edited collection is called Cultural Economies of the Atlantic World: Objects and Capital in the Transatlantic Imagination, edited by Victoria Barnett-Woods, to be published by Routledge at the end of April. My chapter is titled “Conveyance and Commodity: The Ordinary Merchant Ship in the British Atlantic, 1600—1800.”
“Cultural Economies explores the dynamic intersection of material culture and transatlantic formations of “capital” in the long-eighteenth century. It brings together two cutting-edge fields of inquiry—Material Studies and Atlantic Studies—into a generative collection of essays that investigate nuanced ways that capital, material culture, and differing transatlantic ideologies intersected. It is an ambitious and provocative work and provides new interpretive critiques and methodological approaches to understanding both the material and the abstract relationships between humans and objects, including the objectification of humans, into the larger current conversation about capitalism and inevitably, power, in the Atlantic world. Chronologically bracketed by events in the long-eighteenth century circumatlantic, this collection’s essays employ material case studies from littoral African states, to abolitionist North America, to Caribbean slavery, to medicinal practice in South America, providing both broad coverage and nuanced interpretation. Holistically, Cultural Economies demonstrates that the eighteenth-century Atlantic world of capital and materiality was intimately connected to both large and small networks that inform the hemispheric and transatlantic geopolitics of capital and nation of the present day.”
The publisher’s page for the upcoming volume, including Table of Contents, may be accessed here. (Link will open in a new window.)
A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy:
Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America, 1768–1772
Meanwhile, I continue to work on monograph #2, A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy: Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America, 1768–1772 (working title).
In 1767, the shipyard owned by Benjamin Hallowell, Boston’s most prominent shipwright, completed a small schooner for an English client. By the fall of the next year, the schooner Sultana had been bought into the Royal Navy and was on station back in British America as part of a squadron of customs interceptors attempting, with some success as it turned out, to enforce the Townshend Duties, the London government’s latest effort to regulate imperial trade and increase revenue in the debt-ridden wake of the Seven Years War,which had handed the French North American empire over to the British (and British Americans). HM Schooner Sultana‘s service in American waters from 1768 to 1772 provides a unique entree into the maritime world of the eighteenth-century British Empire in America, the commercial and technological success of that world, and the efforts of the Empire’s rulers to control it, fraught as they were with competing interests and strong, frequently contradictory, convictions. Because Sultana–an example of British American technological success–was bought into the Navy, almost all the documentation we could wish for survives in The National Archives of the UK–her master’s and commander’s logs, her muster books, a draught plan, and specifications of her hull, rig, and equipment. From that documentation, a large group of committed people built a faithful, fully-operational replica of her in Chestertown, Maryland, and launched her in 2001. She has been sailing the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay ever since. Her owners had copies made of all the original documents, which they now own, and to which they have allowed me full on-site access. So, we have all the original documentation to learn from here on this side of the pond, and we have the closest thing we can get to the ship herself. That is almost unheard-of for what was, essentially, a perfectly ordinary eighteenth-century merchant type. Sultana‘s story is the story of commercial, technological, political, and cultural forces cooperating and colliding in British American waters, shaping the world that, to an extent few realize, is still the world we live in.
I have completed the first phase of archival work and about 2/3 or so of the secondary-source reading. As of 3 April, I have applied, and been turned down, for every grant or fellowship I am aware of for this cycle. In order to complete research this summer, I am soliciting small contributions toward a final research trip to Maryland. You can find a link to my GoFundMe page below (link will open in a new window). Any help will be deeply appreciated and acknowledged.
The following two articles are available on-line using the following links. (Links will open in a new window.)
“The Ordinary Merchant Ship in the British Atlantic, 1600—1800: A Call for Further Research,” International Journal of Maritime History 29:4 (November 2017), 911–26.
“Something Ventured: The Ordinary Merchantman of the British Atlantic as a Technology of Risk Mitigation, 1600-1800,” Journal of Transport History 38:2 (December 2017), 196–212.