|Inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to maritime history|
|While traditional maritime history was mainly based on the methodology of historical sciences with some influences by the economics, modern approaches to maritime history often are inter- or multidisciplinary and strongly influenced by the social sciences or even the natural sciences.
The proposed paper will discuss advantages and disadvantages of such multidisciplinary research in the field of maritime history based on present-day examples in the context of fisheries history.
In an introductory part the methodological framework of traditional maritime history will be explained and illustrated by classical research studies on fisheries history, like for example: Harold A. Innis, The Cod Fisheries. The History of an International Economy, (New Haven, Toronto 1940) or the much younger study: Wolfgang Walter: Deutsche Fischdampfer, (Bremerhaven, Hamburg 1999).
Based on the analysis of the strength and weaknesses of such classical studies it will be discussed if historical studies like these classics are of relevance for today’s society and in consequence what additional elements are needed to create such a relevance for society.
As maritime (or in particular fisheries) history should not only be the history of the industry but furthermore a history of the human beings within the industry, it is obvious that social sciences methodology is needed for a modern maritime history.
The following main part of the paper will introduce two already existing inter- or multidisciplinary research groups in the field of maritime history and especially focus on the former graduate school “Lebensraum North Sea Coast” at Bremen University and the actual project of the “Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences – Global Change in the Marine Realm (GLOMAR)”. In both projects there is a strong maritime history component and the evaluation of the older one clearly demonstrated that maritime history can benefit by the social sciences as well as the natural sciences.
In the concluding part of the paper it will be explained why especially maritime history is in the need of additional methodological knowledge out of the social and natural sciences. It will be discussed if maritime history is only another sub-discipline of historical sciences or if an interdisciplinary oriented maritime history (including social science and some natural science methodology and approaches) is furthermore an attempt to link the oceans and human society in a wider perspective.