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In her Inaugural Lecture, Alison Bashford, Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, introduces the concept of ‘terraqueous histories’. Maritime historians often stake large claims on world history, and it is indeed the case that the connections and distinctions between land and sea are everywhere in the many traditions of world history-writing. Collapsing the land/sea couplet is useful and ‘terraqueous’ history serves world historians well. The term returns the ‘globe’ to global history, it signals sea as well as land as claimable territory, and in its compound construction foregrounds the history and historiography of meeting places. If the Vere Harmsworth Chair of Imperial and Naval History has recently turned from ‘imperial’ into ‘world’ history, so might its ‘naval’ element become terraqueous history in the twenty-first century.


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Jesus College, Cambridge, cb5 8bl


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Inaugural Lecture, Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, University of Cambridge, 8 October 2015.



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1 Rose, J. Holland, Naval history and national history: the Inaugural Lecture delivered to the University of Cambridge on Trafalgar Day, 1919 (Cambridge, 1919).

2 Richardson, Herbert, Naval history and the citizen (London, 1934); Hunt, Barry D., Sailor-scholar: Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, 1871–1946 (Waterloo, ON, 1983), pp. 217–18.

3 Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, ‘Maritime history and world history’, in Finamore, Daniel, ed., Maritime history as world history (Salem, MA, 2004), p. 9.

4 Polónia, Amélia, ‘Maritime history as global history’, in Fusaro, Maria and Polónia, Amélia, eds., Maritime history as global history (St John's, NL, 2010), p. 14 .

5 Buschmann, Rainer F., ‘Oceans of world history: delineating aquacentric notions in the global past’, History Compass, 2 (2004), pp. 110 .

6 de Souza, Philip, Seafaring and civilization: maritime perspectives on world history (London, 2001); Paine, Lincoln, The sea and civilization: a maritime history of the world (New York, NY, 2013). See also Haws, Duncan and Hurst, Alex A., The maritime history of the world (New York, NY, 1985); Cannadine, David, ed., Empire, the sea and global history: Britain's maritime world, 1763–1840 (Basingstoke, 2007); Harlafitis, Gelina, ‘Maritime history, or the history of Thalassa ’, in Harlafitis et al. , eds., New ways of history: developments in historiography (London, 2010), pp. 211–38.

7 Braudel, Fernand, Civilization and capitalism (3 vols., New York, NY, 1981–4).

8 Braudel, Fernand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II (2 vols., 1948), 2nd rev. edn, trans. Reynolds, Sian (London, 1972 and 1973). See Green, Nile, ‘Maritime worlds and global history: comparing the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean through Barcelona and Bombay’, History Compass, 11 (2013), pp. 513–23.

9 ‘The Indian Ocean: cradle of globalisation’,

10 Schmitt, Carl, Land and sea: a world-historical meditation (1942), trans. Zeitlin, Samuel Garrett (Candor, NY, 2015).

11 Manning, Patrick, Navigating world history: historians create a global past (New York, NY, 2003).

12 Gillis, John R. and Lowenthal, David, ‘Introduction’, to Islands, special issue of Geographical Review, 97 (2007), p. iii.

13 Febvre, Lucien, La terre et l'évolution humaine: introduction géographique à l'histoire (Paris, 1922). Lucien Febvre in collaboration with Battailon, Lionel, A geographical introduction to history, trans. Mountford, E. G. and Paxton, J. H. (London, 1925).

14 Rose, J. Holland, The Mediterranean in the ancient world (Cambridge, 1933).

15 Haushofer, Karl, Geopolitik des pazifischen Ozeans: Studien über die Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Géographie und Geschichte (Berlin, 1925); Bashford, Alison, ‘Karl Haushofer's geopolitics of the Pacific Ocean’, in Fullagar, Kate, ed., The Atlantic world in a Pacific field: effects and transformation since the eighteenth century (Newcastle, 2012), pp. 120–43.

16 Rose, J. Holland, Man and the sea: stages in maritime and human progress (Cambridge, 1935).

17 Ibid., p. 181.

18 Chaudhuri, K. N., Trade and civilisation in the Indian Ocean: an economic history from the rise of Islam to 1750 (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 1, i.

19 Vink, Markus P. M., ‘Indian Ocean studies and the new “thalassology”’, Journal of Global History, 2 (2007), pp. 4162 ; Pearson, Michael N., The Indian Ocean (New York, NY, 2003); Kearney, Milo, The Indian Ocean in world history (London, 2004); Alpers, E. A., The Indian Ocean in world history (Oxford, 2013).

20 Bose, Sugata, A hundred horizons: the Indian Ocean in the age of global empire (Cambridge, MA, 2006).

21 J. Holland Rose, ‘Sea power v. land power’, in Man and the sea, pp. 219–39.

22 Maritime history has also been seen to ‘rescue’ area studies from its own regional limitations. See Lewis, Martin W. and Wigen, Karen, ‘A maritime response to the crisis in area studies’, Geographical Review, 89 (1999), pp. 161–8.

23 Mukherjee, Rila, ed., Oceans connect: reflections on water worlds across space and time (Delhi, 2013); Gabaccía, D. and Hoerder, D., eds., Connecting seas and connected ocean rims (Leiden, 2011).

24 Burton, Antoinette, Kale, Madhavi, Hofmeyr, Isabel, Anderson, Clare, Lee, Christopher J., and Green, Nile, ‘Sea tracks and trails: Indian Ocean worlds as method’, History Compass, 11 (2013), pp. 497502 .

25 See Cohen, Margaret, ‘Literary studies on the terraqueous globe’, PMLA, 125 (2010), pp. 657–62; Arista, Noelani, ‘Navigating uncharted oceans of meaning: Kaona as historical and interpretive method’, PMLA, 125 (2010), pp. 663–9; Desai, Gaurav, ‘Oceans connect: the Indian Ocean and African identities’, PMLA, 125 (2010), pp. 713–20; Hofmeyr, Isabel, ‘Universalizing the Indian Ocean’, PMLA, 125 (2010), pp. 721–9.  See also Gupta, Pamila, Hofmeyr, Isabel, and Pearson, Michael, eds., Eyes across the water: navigating the Indian Ocean (Pretoria and Delhi, 2010).

26 For example, ‘Post terrestrial area studies? The Indian Ocean, translocal histories, and maritime constructions of space’,

27 Steinberg, Philip E., The social construction of the ocean (Cambridge, 2001), p. 109.

28 Steinberg, P. and Peters, K., ‘Wet ontologies, fluid spaces: giving depth to volume through oceanic thinking’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 33 (2015), pp. 247–64.

29 Pearson, Michael, ‘Oceanic history’, in Duara, Prasenjit, Murthy, Viren, and Sartori, Andrew, eds., A companion to global historical thought (Chichester, 2014), p. 345; Pearson, Michael N., ‘Littoral society: the concept and the problems’, Journal of World History, 17 (2006), pp. 353–73.

30 Thanks to Simon Schaffer for discussion on this point. See also Eley, Geoff, ‘Historicizing the global, politicizing capital: giving the present a name’, History Workshop Journal, 63 (2007), pp. 154–88; Nancy, Jean-Luc, The creation of the world, or globalization (New York, NY, 2007).

31 Savage-Smith, Emilie, Islamicate celestial globes: their history, construction, and use (Washington, DC, 1985), p. 3; Sarma, Sreeramula Rajeswara, ‘From Al-Kura to Bhagola: the dissemination of the celestial globe in India’, Studies in the History of Medicine and Sciences, 13 (1994), pp. 6985 ; Brotton, Jerry, ‘Terrestrial globalism: mapping the globe in early modern Europe’, in Cosgrove, Denis, ed., Mappings (London, 1999).

32 For example Mair, John, A brief survey of the terraqueous globe (Edinburgh, 1775); Gordon, Patrick, Geography anatomiz'd: or, the geographical grammar (London, 1725). See also Clacken, C. J. and Thrower, N. J. W., eds., The terraqueous globe (Los Angeles, CA, 1969); Porter, Roy, ‘The terraqueous globe’, in Rousseau, G. S. and Porter, Roy, eds., The ferment of knowledge: studies in the historiography of eighteenth-century science (Cambridge, 1980), pp. 285324 ; Tinkler, Keith J., ‘Worlds apart: eighteenth-century writing on rivers, lakes, and the terraqueous globe’, in History of geomorphology (Boston, MA, 1989), pp. 3771 .

33 Ramaswamy, Sumathi, ‘Conceit of the globe in Mughal visual practice’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49 (2007), pp. 751–82.

34 Derham, William, Derham's physico and astro theology (2 vols., London, 1786), i, p. 5.

35 Woodward, John, An essay towards the natural history of the earth (1695) (London, 1723), p. 133.

36 Derham, Derham's physico and astro theology, p. 65.

37 Gilchrist, E., The use of sea voyages in medicine (London, 1757), pp. 23 .

38 Porter, ‘The terraqueous globe’, p. 312.

39 Ibid., p. 312.

40 Ibid., p. 286.

41 Robin, Libby and Steffen, Will, ‘History for the Anthropocene’, History Compass, 5 (2007), pp. 1694–719; Will Steffen, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, and John McNeill, ‘The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives’, Proceedings of the Royal Society, 31 Jan. 2011; Bonneuil, Christophe and Fressoz, Jean-Baptiste, The shock of the Anthropocene: the earth, history and us (London, 2016).

42 Grove, Richard H. and Chappell, John, eds., El Niño, history and crisis: studies from the Asia-Pacific region (Cambridge, 2000); Meinert, Carmen, ed., Nature, environment and culture in East Asia: the challenge of climate change (Leiden, 2013); Amrith, Sunil A., Crossing the bay of Bengal: the furies of nature and the fortunes of migrants (Cambridge, MA, 2013); Chakrabarty, Dipesh, ‘On conjoined histories: climate and capital’, Critical Inquiry, 41 (2014), pp. 123 ; Brooke, John L., Climate change and the course of global history (New York, NY, 2014); Austin, Gareth, ed., Economic development and environmental history in the Anthropocene (London, 2016).

43 Steinberg, Social construction of the ocean, p. 13.

44 Buchhol, Hanns Jürgen, Law of the sea zones in the Pacific Ocean (Singapore, 1987); Anand, R. P., Origin and development of law of the sea (The Hague, 1982). And for the Indian Ocean region, see Gupta, Manoj, Indian Ocean region: maritime regimes for regional cooperation (New York, NY, 2010); Paul D'Arcy, ‘Sea worlds: Pacific and South-East Asian history centred on the Philippines’, in Mukherjee, ed., Oceans connect, pp. 20–35.

45 See McNiven, Ian, ‘Saltwater people: spiritscapes, maritime rituals and the archaeology of Australian indigenous seascapes’, World Archaeology, 35 (2004), pp. 329–49; see also Mulrennan, Monica and Scott, Colin, ‘ Mare Nullius: indigenous rights in saltwater environments’, Development and Change, 31 (2000), pp. 681708 ; Lotilla, Raphael P. M., ‘Navigational rights in archipelagic waters: a commentary from the Philippines’, in Rothwell, Donald R. and Bateman, Sam, eds., Navigational rights and freedoms and the new law of the sea (The Hague, 2000), pp. 154–7; Smyth, Dermot, ‘Management of sea country’, in Baker, R., Davies, J., and Young, E., eds., Working on country: indigenous environmental management in Australia (Oxford, 2001), pp. 6074 ; Jackson, S. E., ‘The water is not empty: cross-cultural issues in conceptualising sea space’, Australian Geographer, 26 (1995), pp. 8796 .

46 Gupta, Charu and Sharma, Mukul, Contested coastlines: fisherfolk, nations and borders in South Asia (New Delhi, 2008); Pearson, ‘Littoral society’, pp. 353–73.

47 Paine, The sea and civilization, p. 4.

48 Islands are key to Mediterranean history. See Abulafia, David, The great sea: a human history of the Mediterranean (London, 2011). And see Sivasundaram, Sujit, Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka, and the bounds of an Indian Ocean colony (Chicago, IL, 2013).

49 Land, Isaac, ‘Tidal waves: the new coastal history’, Journal of Social History, 40 (2007), p. 731. See also Ronnby, Johan, ‘Maritime durées: long-term structures in a coastal landscape’, Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 2 (2007), pp. 6582 .

50 Gillis, John R., The human shore: seacoasts in history (Chicago, IL, 2012), p. 4. For new littoral scholarship, see Samuelson, Men, ‘Sea changes, dark tides and littoral states:  oceans and coastlines in post-apartheid South African narratives’, Alternation Special Edition, 6 (2013), pp. 928 .

51 See Pearson, ‘Oceanic history’, p. 340.

52 Rediker, Markus, Between the devil and the deep blue sea: merchant seamen, pirates and the Anglo-American maritime world (Cambridge, 1989); Balachandran, Gopalan, Globalizing labour? Indian seafarers and world shipping, c. 1870–1945 (Delhi, 2012).

53 For ship as floating state, see Steinberg, Social construction of the ocean, p. 51.

54 Reviewed by Land, ‘Tidal waves: the new coastal history’, p. 731.

55 Foucault, Michel, ‘Of other spaces’, Diacritics, 16 (1986), pp. 22–7.

56 Dening, Greg, Beach crossings: voyaging across times, cultures and self (Philadelphia, PA, 2004). See also Dening, Greg, ‘Deep times, deep spaces: civilizing the sea’, in Klein, Bernard and Mackenthun, Gesa, eds., Sea changes: historicizing the ocean (New York, NY, 2004), pp. 1335 ; Thomas, Nicholas, Entangled objects: exchange, material culture, and colonialism in the Pacific (Cambridge, MA, 2009); Smith, Vanessa, Intimate strangers: friendship, exchange and Pacific encounters (Cambridge, 2010).

57 Pocock, J. G. A., The discovery of islands: essays in British history (Cambridge, 2005), p. 3 . For different temporalities, see Nugent, Maria, Botany Bay: where histories meet (Sydney, 2005); Donaldson, Mike, ‘The end of time? Aboriginal temporality and the British invasion of Australia’, Time and Society, 5 (1996), pp. 187207 ; Salesa, Damon, ‘The Pacific in indigenous time’, in Armitage, David and Bashford, Alison, eds., Pacific histories: ocean, land, peoples (Basingstoke, 2013), pp. 3152 ; Salesa, Damon, ‘When the waters met: some shared histories of Christianity and ancestral Samoan spirituality’, in Suali'i, T. et al. , eds., Whispers and vanities: Samoan indigenous knowledge and religion (Wellington, 2014), pp. 143–58.

58 For example Benton, Lauren, ‘No longer odd region out: repositioning Latin America in world history’, Hispanic American Historical Review, 84 (2004), p. 427; Buschmann, ‘Oceans of world history’, pp. 1–10.

59 David Armitage and Alison Bashford, ‘Introduction: the Pacific and its histories’, in Armitage and Bashford, eds., Pacific histories, pp. 1–28; Salesa, Damon, ‘The world from Oceania’, in Northrop, Douglas, ed., A companion to world history (Chichester, 2012).

60 Epeli Hau'ofa, ‘Our sea of islands’ (1993), in Hau'ofa, Epeli, We are the ocean: selected works (Honolulu, HI, 2008), pp. 2740 ; Jolly, Margaret, ‘Imagining Oceania: indigenous and foreign representations of a sea of islands’, Contemporary Pacific, 19 (2007), pp. 508–45; Padrón, Ricardo, ‘A sea of denial: the early modern Spanish invention of the Pacific Rim’, Hispanic Review, 77 (2009), pp. 127 ; Cumings, Bruce, ‘Rimspeak; or, the discourse of the “Pacific Rim”’, in Dirlik, Arif, ed., What is in a rim? Critical perspectives on the Pacific region idea (Lanham, MD, 1998).

61 Howard, John, An account of the principal lazarettos in Europe, with various papers relative to the plague (London, 1798).

62 See Bashford, Alison, ‘Maritime quarantine: linking old world and new world histories’, in Bashford, Alison, ed., Quarantine: local and global histories (Basingstoke, 2016), pp. 112 .

63 Huber, Valeska, Channelling mobilities: migration and globalisation in the Suez Canal region and beyond, 1869–1914 (Cambridge, 2013).

64 Middell, M. and Naumann, K., ‘Global history and the spatial turn’, Journal of Global History, 5 (2010), pp. 149–70.

65 Wong, R. Bin, ‘Regions and global history’, in Berg, Maxine, ed., Writing the history of the global (Oxford, 2013), pp. 84–7.

66 Freitag, U. and Oppen, A. V., eds., Translocality: the study of globalising phenomena from a southern perspective (Leiden, 2010).

67 Trentmann, Frank, ‘Materiality in the future of history: things, practices, and politics’, Journal of British Studies, 48 (2009), pp. 283307 .

68 See for example W. McGregor, ‘Memorandum for the governor of the Crown Colony of Fiji, 27 August 1884’, Proceedings of the Australasian Sanitary Conference, Government Printer: 1884, p. 61.

69 Meyer, K. F., Disinfected mail (Holton, KS, 1962).

70 Bashford, Alison and Tracy, Sarah W., ‘Introduction: modern airs, waters, and places’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 86 (2012), pp. 495514 .

71 ‘Stories from the Sandstone: the archaeology and history of quarantine’. This project investigated  inscriptions on North Head between 2012 and 2016, collaboratively undertaken by Alison Bashford, Anne Clarke, Ursula Frederick, and Peter Hobbins.

72 Translation by Emeritus Professor Michael Carter for the Quarantine Project, University of Sydney.

73 Statement by the President of the Board of Health, ‘The history of the outbreak’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Feb. 1898.

74 ‘List of passengers’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Feb. 1898.

75 Bashford, Alison and Hobbins, Peter, ‘Rewriting quarantine: Pacific history at Australia's edge’, Australian Historical Studies, 46 (2015), pp. 118 .

76 Abulafia, The great sea; Igler, David, The great ocean: Pacific worlds from Captain Cook to the gold rush (Oxford, 2013).

77 Translated by Vannessa Hearman, Department of Indonesian Studies, University of Sydney.

78 For the Afghan, see Finnane, Mark, ‘Law as politics: Chinese litigants in Australian colonial courts’, in Couchman, S. and Bagnall, K., eds., Chinese Australians: politics, engagement and resistance (Leiden, 2015), pp. 118–36; for the Komagata Maru, see Mawani, Renisa, ‘Law and migration across the Pacific: narrating the Komagata Maru outside and beyond the nation’, in Perry, A., Dubinsky, K., and Yu, H., eds., Within and without the nation: Canadian history as transnational history (Toronto, ON, 2015).

79 See Fitzmaurice, Andrew, Property, sovereignty and empire, 1500–2000 (Cambridge, 2014), p. 310 .

80 McAdam, Jane, ed., Climate change and displacement (Oxford, 2010); McAdam, Jane, ‘Historical cross-border relocations in the Pacific: lessons for planned relocations in the context of climate change’, Journal of Pacific History, 49 (2014), pp. 301–27.

81 Teaiwa, Katerina Martina, Consuming Ocean Island: stories of people and phosphate from Banaba (Ann Arbor, MI, 2014).

82 Bashford, Alison, Global population: history, geopolitics, and life on earth (New York, NY, 2014).

* Inaugural Lecture, Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, University of Cambridge, 8 October 2015.


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