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One Ship, Thousands of Lives: A Transnational History of Shipbuilding, Shipping and the Maritime World as Seen Through the Life of an Average Merchant Sailing Ship, 1886-1930.

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Title:One Ship, Thousands of Lives: A Transnational History of Shipbuilding, Shipping and the Maritime World as Seen Through the Life of an Average Merchant Sailing Ship, 1886-1930.
Authors:Tachco, Brandon T. L.
Contributors:History (department)
Date Issued:May 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Over many generations, numerous scholars have produced impressive and useful work covering the history of shipping in countless different ways, but most have been limited by nation-based scopes and framings. When viewing this global system from the perspectives of the individual ships and the individual people that were a part of it, it becomes clear that the reality was not so easily identified or defined. Whether made for war or trade, ships often survived through multiple owners, names, and purposes, and so represented the lives of many people from many different classes, races, nationalities, and creeds. This dissertation, therefore, views the history of shipping based on the birth and life of a single merchant ship from the late-nineteenth century: the square-rigged sailing ship Balclutha, which was built in Glasgow in 1886 and is now a museum ship in San Francisco. Rather than falling-back on more generalized nation-based definitions, this focused framing enables the study to be more precise and specific in its analyses of these historical subjects, which provides useful insight into the history of this global shipping system, and the history of the thousands of individuals whose lives were in some way connected to, and dependent on, nineteenth-century ships.
The entirety of the dissertation looks broadly at Balclutha’s whole life and analyzes world historical topics and people that were connected through ships like it. First, a detailed look at Balclutha’s construction on the Clyde River and the commodity chains of materials needed for its construction reveals a local shipbuilding community with connections to other communities and people across the world. Then, analyzing the specific commodity chain example of the important shipbuilding wood, teak, connects this Glaswegian shipbuilding community and the ships they built to complex geo-politics, corporate imperialism, and teak extraction in Burma. And finally, an overview of the working lives of those that lived on Balclutha while the ship sailed the sea, traversed traditional historical periods, and changed owners and purposes, demonstrates a transnational and trans-social maritime space. These analyses together exemplify a world system that was dependent on various imperial negotiations and collaborations. Those with or without power and wealth were not focused in any particular geographic region, such as center or periphery, but were present to varying degrees in all parts of the system. In this way, imperial metropoles, centers, or peripheries were more socio-economic than geographical. Many of these historical subjects lived non-national or nationally indifferent lives. The local expands to the global, transnational, and back to the local, traveling on networks of investment, work, and labor, all without necessarily being medicated by the national. Thus, the national, in many instances, could be skipped over in analyses of the globalization of the world.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - History

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