The old adage ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’ can certainly apply to new ways of networking in these times of global pandemic. As a response to the Covid-19 crisis on 13 April 2020 Professor David Worthington (Firths and Fjords, University of the Highlands and Islands) sent out a call to those interested in Coastal History to come together and informally share their projects and look for new ways those interested in coastal frameworks could collaborate.
Over the course of two online meetings a great deal of interest was shown for kindred subjects, and a subsequent request for participants to be added to a mailing list has so far attracted nearly 70 participants from across the globe. The network is not exclusively academic, and welcomes practitioners of public engagement and heritage organisations, environmental organisations, and those interested in how coastal pasts can inform public policy, regeneration and sustainability. The group is also pleased to have attracted artists who are inspired by the coast, and would be interested to seek collaborations with community groups who are keen to celebrate their coastal identity.
Naturally the Port Towns and Urban Cultures group at the University of Portsmouth (UK) were keen to be involved in this exciting initiative. We have a number of exciting Coastal History projects in the pipeline (some to be announced very soon – watch this space!) We are also extremely proud to host Isaac Land’s Coastal History Blog, which was first published on the PTUC website in 2013. New additions to the blog are planned over the summer, and we will be celebrating its half-century post shortly. Isaac is a leading scholar in the field and the blog has highlighted the diversity – and possibilities – of coastal studies. This can be evidenced in the range of guest contributions Isaac has welcomed from international scholars on subjects ranging from the history of the beach, to the representation of Gotham City as a port town.
Our team at PTUC possess a range of specialisms that fit into a wider ‘coastal history’ framework and are pleased to be part of an informal steering committee helping to facilitate and shape the direction of the network. Over the next months the steering committee will consult with our colleagues on the directions the network should take, and explore possibilities from scoping out collaborative projects and funding bids to establishing a reading group and discussion groups. Great progress has already been made thanks to Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po, France) who has established a ‘Coastal Studies’ Zotero bibliography which can be continually added to by participants. We urge all followers to look out for and use the hashtags #coastalhistory #coastalstudies so that we can all keep up with these exciting developments.
We are delighted to announce that the inaugural event of the network will be a round table discussion, scheduled for 22 July 2020 2-3.30 pm (UK time) entitled ‘Fractured Coasts’. The discussion will explore theme of ‘fracture’ in social, political and environmental ways in order to showcase the potential a coastal history and coastal studies approach can have in understanding the world around us. Guest presenters confirmed are:
- Elsa Devienne (Northumbria University, UK), author of La ruée vers le sable. Une histoire environnementale des plages de Los Angeles au XXe siècle (Editions de La Sorbonne, 2020)
- Gerry Bigelow (Bates College, USA), Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project
- Bathsheba DeMuth (Brown University (USA), author of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait
- David Gange (University of Birmingham, UK), author of The Frayed Atlantic Edge: a Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel
Come and be a part of the network and help shape its future! The next meeting is Wednesday 10 June at 2pm (UK time). Please contact David Worthington via David.Worthington@uhi.ac.uk
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