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Subaltern Maritime Networks and the Formation of Transnational Spaces

Subaltern Maritime Networks and the Formation of Transnational Spaces

• Research Funding

International Partnership and Mobility Scheme


The award

Dr David Featherstone of the University of Glasgow, UK, was awarded £8,855 to partner with Professor Lakshmi Subramanian of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS), Kolkata, India.

The project

The aim of their one-year project was to use maritime networks to investigate the spatial politics of subalternity in the period 1750-1950, exploring how marginal groups such as sailors, pirates, and dockworkers made sense of their often harsh lives at sea and the ways they sought to contest and resist exploitative relationships. The project looked across oceanic spaces, contributing to approaches which are going beyond ways of treating the Atlantic and Indian oceans as discrete or bounded. It was similarly pioneering in its sustained conversation between history and geography. 

Our funding

The Academy’s funding brought together scholars from India, Britain and South Africa through an interdisciplinary workshop held at CSSS. Over the course of a visiting fellowship at CSSS, Dr Featherstone also set out plans for the further development of exchanges and connections between the early-career researchers involved in the workshop.


The project helped to understand the histories and geographies of imperialism and anti-imperialism and found that marginal groups were active participants in the making of transnational connections through mutinies, strikes, and everyday forms of opposition and organising. It shed light on both subaltern politics and emerging interdisciplinary debates on the character of subaltern maritime worlds.

Another important outcome was the formation of an interdisciplinary, transnational research network, catalysing connections between scholars from different institutions in India, South Africa, and the UK.