Program 2023-2024

Events for Fall 2023 (Sep-Dec)

Click here for the Zoom address!

Welcome to our webinar series for the Academic Yer 2023-2024. This year each term will be devoted to a specific stream of research. For the Fall, Emilia Mataix Ferrandiz has curated a set of talks that verge on maritime spaces and law. For the Spring program, Veronica Walker Vadillo has gathered speakers to discuss the topic of Island Archaeology and its intersection with maritime archaeology. The talks are now once per month, scheduled for the first #MaritimeMonday of the month. We’ve been busy bees and from this fall onward we will share pre-recorded, short videos that will put the spotlight on current issues on maritime archaeology. This Spotlights section is curated by Katerina Velentza.

Monday, 2nd of October, 2023

12h PM Helsinki, 10h AM UK

Regulating maritime trade at the dawn of early-modern Europe

With Guido Rossi (University of Edinburgh)

Maritime trade played a crucial role in the economic development of western Europe. During the Middle Ages, the increase in trade led to its increasingly complex regulation; in its turn, such a regulation had a profound influence on the development of trade. This connection is so deep that it is not possible to appreciate the development of maritime commerce without looking at the rules underpinning it. This paper will provide an introduction to the main aspects of this complex subject, ranging from insurance to averages, looking especially at the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Guido Rossi’s bio

Guido Rossi read law at Pavia (Italy) and Cambridge. After a short spell at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, he moved to Edinburgh in 2013. Guido is particularly interested in the medieval and early modern history of civil, canon and commercial law, and welcomes enquires from prospective PhD students on any of those fields.

Chair: Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz

Monday, 16th of October, 2023

12h PM Helsinki, 10h AM UK

Book discussion: The Life of the Red Sea Dhow: a cultural history of seaborne exploration in the Islamic world

With Dionisius Agius (University of Exeter)

Few images are as evocative as the silhouette of the Arab dhow as, under full sail, it tacks to windward on glittering waters of Red Sea before moving across the face of the rising or setting sun. In this authoritative new book, Dionisius A. Agius, one of the foremost scholars of Islamic material culture, offers a lucid and wide-ranging history of the iconic dhow from medieval to modern times. Traversing the Arabian and African coasts, he shows that the dhow was central not just to commerce but to the vital transmission and exchange of ideas. Discussing trade and salt routes, shoals and wind patterns, spice harvest seasons and the deep and resonant connection between language, memory and oral tradition, this is the first book to place the dhow in its full and remarkable cultural contexts.

Dionisius Agios’ bio

Our speaker is an Arabist and ethnographer specializing in the maritime landscapes of the Islamicate world with a focus on the material culture and heritage, and the medieval Arabic cultural geography of the Western Indian Ocean. He has conducted extensive fieldwork on the coasts of the Arabian Gulf and Oman between 1990 and 2000, and the African and Arabian  Red Sea from 2002 to present.

Pioneering dhow studies his research uses multiple methods or data sources in extensive archival material and archaeological finds establishing a historical, geographical and cultural pattern of the life of a maritime people in a unique multi-disciplinary series of research outputs

Chairs: Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz and Veronica Walker-Vadillo


Monday, 13th November 2023

12h PM Helsinki, 10h AM UK

Title : Lines and Laws on a Painted Ocean

With Philip Steinberg (University of Durham)

When Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner that his vessel was ‘As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean,’ the references to ‘painting’ have a double meaning. Although Coleridge’s primary aim with this image was to highlight how both the ocean and ship are still and frozen, without dynamic character, the reference has the secondary effect of stressing how, in modern thought, the ocean and ship are reduced (or elevated) to drawn, allegorical features, abstracted from material reality. In this paper, I use a reflection on Coleridge’s image of a ‘painted ocean’ to explore some of the ways that lines are drawn on the sea, and how line-drawing supports a form of abstraction that excludes dynamic, experienced nature. Building on examples from maritime boundary delimitation, marine spatial planning, and uses of bounded ocean-space to evoke state sovereignty, this paper argues that ‘painting’ the ocean with lines can do as much to obscure as reveal the lines that we draw in ocean-space, and that the ocean draws on us.

Philip Steinberg’s bio

Philip Steinberg is UArctic Chair in Political Geography at Durham University, where he directs the Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC), the Northeast England/Northern Ireland Doctoral Training Partnership (NINEDTP), and IBRU: Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research. He is the author or editor of seven books including, most recently, The Routledge Handbook of Ocean Space and Territory Beyond Terra as well as recent articles on topics ranging from the potential for international law to limit the right to break sea ice, the role that ideals of oceanic memorialisation and dispersal have played in the debate surrounding Bristol, England’s memorial to slave trader Edward Colston, and the politics surrounding the definition and management of  the marginal ice zone in Norway’s Barents Sea.

Chair: Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz


Monday, 4th of December 2023

18:00 Helsinki / 08:00 Vancouver time 

Unruly Oceans: Law, Violence and Sovereignty at Sea

Interview with Renisa Mawani and Sebastian Prange (University of British Columbia)

In the fourteenth century, on the South Indian coast, the North African traveller, Ibn Battuta, witnessed a custom that was then common across the Indian Ocean. Under what was known as the ‘right of the port’ (Ar. haqq al-bandar), coastal states could seize part of the cargo of any vessel that entered a port, not of its own volition, but due to a storm or some other calamity. While the origins of this custom are unknown, it is widely attested across the trading world of the medieval Indian Ocean.1 A few rulers even went so far as to force passing ships into their harbour, in order to then exercise their ‘right of the port.’ Ibn Battuta, a jurist by training, complained bitterly about this practice, but continued to frame his description of it in terms of law and sovereignty. The commercial networks along which Ibn Battuta travelled traversed many different legal orders, polities, jurisdictions, and religious contexts. In their dealings with one another, merchants developed a type of trans-oceanic lex mercatoria to govern their business relationships; this was often rooted in Islamic law, even in cases when none of the parties identified as Muslim.2 The legal plurality of the Indian Ocean arena and its surrounding ports, described by Ibn Battuta and many others, opens a generative context from which to teach an aqueous history of international law.

Renisa Mawani’s Bio 

Canada Research Chair, Colonial Legal Histories & Professor.

My research is organized along two trajectories. The first meets at the interface of critical theory and legal history. To date, my work has aimed to write histories of colonial dispossession aimed at Indigenous peoples and restrictions imposed on “Asiatic” migration (from China and India, in particular) as conjoined and entangled colonial legal processes that are central to the politics of settler colonialism, historically and in the contemporary moment. My first book, Colonial Proximities (2009), details legal encounters between Indigenous peoples, Chinese migrants, Europeans, and those enumerated as “mixed race” along Canada’s west coast. The book considers how state racisms were produced and mobilized through land, law, and labour in sites of colonial re-settlement and offers a critical engagement with Foucault’s conceptualization of biopolitics.

My second set of interests, “legalities of nature,” coalesce at the juncture of science, law, and history. I have written a series of articles on law and nature through parks and place. A central concern has been the ways in which colonial violence has been imposed and legitimized through racial, legal, civic, and state claims to nature, identity, and wilderness.

Sebastian Prange’s bio

Sebastian Prange (PhD, University of London) is an economic historian of the medieval Indian Ocean world, with a focus on South India. His research interests revolve around the history of Islam in monsoon Asia, the role of piracy and maritime violence, and the development of capitalism from a non-European perspective.



Interviewer: Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz


Save the Dates for the Spring Term! 


8th of January

New Year, New Research Proposal!

Welcome the New Year with us! We will be discussing the funding horizon in Europe and giving tips to Early Career Scholars on their next step toward an Academic Career!

Hosts: Veronica Walker Vadillo, Katerina Velentza, Emilia Mataix Ferrandiz

5th of February

Jennifer Mckinnon (east carolina university)

Topic: maritime archaeology in the Pacific

4th of March

Peter Mitchell (University of Oxford)

Topic: island archaeology in the Canary Islands

8th of March – Women’s Day Special

Helen Farr (University of Southampton)

Topic: It’s complicated! Maternity, motherhood, and parenting in Academia

1st of April

Carlos Mondragon (Centro de Estudios de Asia y África in El Colegio de México)

Topic: Island Identity in the Pacific

6th of May

Helen Dawson (University of Bologna)

Topic: relational perspectives in Island Archaeology

3rd of June

Rintaro Ono (National Museum of Ethnology of Japan)

Topic: Pelagic fishing and island archaeology in the Pacific