Maritime Solidarity: Past and Present

22 September 2023 - 9:00 — 23 September 2023 - 16:30

As part of the conference Maritime Solidarity that brings together scholars, activists and scholar-activists to discuss maritime solidarity in the past and present, we also organise a two-day public roundtable. 

The themes of the roundtable of on present-day workers' solidarity and trade union struggles (Friday 15:30-17:00 Public roundtable I: Maritime Workers’ Solidarity), as well as support work for seafarers (Saturday 19:30-21:30 Public roundtable II: Solidarity and Resistance at Sea). Do you wish to participate? Please register here for Friday and here for Saturday.

This conference is organized by the International Institute of Social History (IISH), VU Amsterdam’s interfaculty research institute CLUE+, and the History Department of the University of Pittsburgh. Organizing committee: Pepijn Brandon, Niklas Frykman, Marcus Rediker, and Nandita Sharma.

You can find the entire programme below.

Protest action at the harbour of Zarzis, Tunisia, April 2018.

Friday 22 September 2023

Maritime solidarity

9:15-9:25       Welcome

9:30-10:15     Keynote I: Marcus Rediker (University of Pittsburgh), “Escaping Slavery by Sea in 19th-century America: Lessons for the Present”

10:15-10:30   Break

10:30-12:00   Solidarity and the sea

Chair: Karin Hofmeester (IISH Amsterdam)
•    Joe Redmayne (Newcastle University), “‘This is the fight of all Seamen, no matter what their Creed or Colour’: Interracial Solidarity on Britain’s North-East Coast, 1919-30”
•    Daniel Tödt (University of Konstanz), “Striking Differences in the Age of Steam: Racialized Division of Maritime Solidarity in the Belgian Empire”
•    Samia Dinkelaker (Academia Sinica), “Strategies of self-protection: an ethnography among Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan’s fishing industry”

12:00-13:30   Lunch

13:30-15:00   Shipboard struggles

Chair: Cynthia Wright (York University, Toronto)

•    Justine Cousin (University of Caen), “Maritime Solidarity among Colonial Seamen Working for British companies (1925-1946)”
•    Benjamin Barson (Bucknell University) and Alexis Dudden (University of Connecticut), “The Robert Browne mutiny”
•    Kevin Dawson (UC Merced), “Maritime Marronage: Multi-Ethnic Voyages to Communities of Belonging”

15:00-15:30    Break

15:30-17:00    Public roundtable I: Maritime Workers’ Solidarity

Facilitator: Rosa Kösters (IISH Amsterdam)

•    Charlie Thomas, Ph.D. student, Queen Mary University, London, UK (examining the political work of the Union Sindacale di Base (USB) in Livorno, Italy and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in South Africa)
•    Miriam Matthiessen, Eliza Adler, and Jacob Bolton, Abandoned Seafarer Map project
•    Luis Thielemann, Professor at the School of History of the Universidad Finis Terrae and editor of ROSA Magazine and Camilo Santibanez, Professor of the Department of History of the University of Santiago de Chile and trade union adviser in the Chamber of Deputies of Chile (discussing dockworkers’ solidarity with urban social struggles in Chile)
•    Robert Dickey, A Longshore worker in the Port of NY/NJ

17:00-17:20     Summing up day 1: Pepijn Brandon (IISH / VU Amsterdam)

19:00     Conference dinner

Saturday 23 September 2023


9:25-9:30     Welcome to day 2
9:30-10:15     Keynote II: Niklas Frykman (University of Pittsburgh), “Hydrarchy and the history of global capitalism”

10:15-10:30   Break

10:30-12:00   Solidarity between shore and ship

Chair: Younes Saramifar (VU Amsterdam)

•    Peter Cole (Western Illinois University), “The dockers who fought authoritarianism with solidarity”
•    Ncebakazi Makwetu (University of Fort Hare), “International Solidarity and Apartheid: Port Elizabeth’s Dockworkers”
•    Rafeef Ziadah (King’s College London) and Katy Fox-Hodess (University of Sheffield), “Block the Boat for Palestine! A Comparative Study of Organizing Efficacy in ‘Labor Union Social Movementism’ on the U.S. Docks, 2014-2021”
•    Hassan Ould-Moctar (LSE), “Connecting Maritime and Terrestrial Solidarity between the Mediterranean and the Sahara”

12:00-13:00   Lunch

13:00-14:30   Violence and resistance at sea

Chair: Bridget Anderson (University of Bristol)

•    Liam Campling (QMU) and Alex Colas (Birkbeck), “Maritime Logistics and Labor Regimes: Infrastructures of Accumulation / Dynamics of Resistance”
•    Maurice Stierl (Osnabrück University) and Lucia Gennari, “Underground Seaways: Solidarity and Resistance in the Mediterranean”
•    Travis van Isacker (University of Bristol) and Thom Tyerman (University of Warwick), “Border struggles and migrant solidarity in the Channel region”
•    Miriam Ticktin (CUNY Graduate Center) and Lochlann Jain (Stanford University), “The History and Present of Drowning: Intimacy and Solidarity at Sea”

14:30-15:00    Break

15:00-16:30    The work of solidarity

Chair: Lex Heerma van Voss (IISH Amsterdam)

•    Luna Vives (University of Montreal), “Opposition from within: Spanish rescue workers fight against the closed sea border”
•    Pat Rubio Bertran (Aston University), “Fostering solidarity at sea: The maritime shipping industry and sea rescue in the Mediterranean”
•    Jasmine Iozelli (University of Turin), “A sea perennially on the move. SAR in the central Mediterranean:  Between Search & Rescue and Solidarity & Resistance”
•    Deanna Dadusc (University of Brighton) and Camille Gendrot (University of Paris 1), “Facilitating Freedom of Movement”

16:30-16:50    Summing up day 2: Nandita Sharma (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

17:30-19:00    Dinner

19:30-21:30    Public roundtable II: Solidarity and Resistance at Sea

Facilitator: Charles Heller (Director of Border Forensics, Research Fellow at the Geneva Graduate Institute and the University of Bristol)

•    Imane Echchikhi, Alarm Phone Network
•    Matteo Aria, Cinzia Settembrini, and Stefano Tria, Ermenautica-Saperi
•    Maria Elena, seafarer, Sea Watch Protection Coordinator
•    Jakob Frühmann, Sea-Watch, Ship and Airborne Operations for Civil Sea Rescue in the Central Mediterranean
•    Maurice Stierl, Osnabrück University and Alarm Phone Network

Image: Protest action at the harbour of Zarzis, Tunisia, April 2018. Copyright: Alarm Phone.