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Vessel of Globalization: The Many Worlds of the Edwin Fox

Vessel of Globalization: The Many Worlds of the Edwin Fox

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  • Fri 21 Jun, 6:00pm – 7:00pm


Marlborough Museum, 26 Arthur Baker Place, Blenheim


All Ages

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  • Gold Coin Donation: $0.00

Join us as we welcome Professor Boyd Cothran and Professor Adrian Shubert from York University in Toronto, who will use the story of Edwin Fox as a way of exploring the important process of globalization that took place in the second half of the 19th century and first years of the 20th.

This talk will combine archival research and Arc GIS mapping to reconstruct the many worlds of the Edwin Fox. Emphasising stories of integration, interactions, and entanglements, this paper describes the ways in which the unique perspective of this single ship can provide to a more intimate understanding of the human agencies and the human costs involved in the most important period of globalization to occur prior to the one we have been experiencing since the 1990s.

The merchant vessel Edwin Fox was exceptional for being unexceptional. It was old fashioned even before its keel was laid down in Thomas Reeves’s shipyards near Calcutta in 1853. It was neither large nor fast and had none of the prestige of the great tea and opium clippers that captured the public imagination in the mid-nineteenth century. \

The Edwin Fox was a small, ugly slowpoke in the heyday of the age of sail and a lonesome survivor in the age of steam, and from a mariner’s perspective, it sat at the bottom of the hierarchy of opportunities.

Yet the life and career of this undistinguished ship coincide with a pivotal era in globalization: the years between 1860 and 1890 that Jurgen Osterhammel calls the “inner focal point” of the 19th century. And the Edwin Fox participated in many of the developments that made these years so crucial: the rapid expansion and intensification of trade around the globe; the spread of industrialisation to many regions; the great thrust of Western imperialism; the unprecedentedly large migrations of people, both free and forced; the large-scale and systematic dispossession of indigenous peoples and their replacement with settler populations; the integration of settler colonies into imperial markets; and environmental change on a massive scale.

Adrian Shubert is a University Professor in the Department of History at York University. His scholarship has been focused on the social, cultural and political history of Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries. His major publications include Espartero. El Pacificador (2018), Death and Money in the Afternoon: A History of the Spanish Bullfight (1999 and A social History of Modern Spain (1990). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has been made a Commander of the Order of Civil Merit by the king of Spain.

Boyd Cothran is an Associate Professor I the Department of History at York University and the co-editor of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. His is a historian of the 19th century and the author of Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), which received the 2015 Robert M. Utley Prize for the best book in military history from the Western History Association and was a finalist for the Best First Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

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