Shipping Rocks and Sand: Ballast in Global History

Nov 11, 2020

34th Annual Lecture of the GHI Washington (Virtual) | 10am to 12pm ET | Speaker: Roland Wenzlhuemer (Ludwigs-Maximilian-Universität München); Comment: Francesca Trivellato (Institute for Advanced Studies)

The 34th Annual Lecture of the GHI will be delivered by Roland Wenzlhuemer (Ludwigs-Maximilian-Universität München) with a comment by Francesca Trivellato (Institute for Advanced Studies).

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The lecture will examine the global transshipment of millions of tons of sand and stone as shipping ballast. It will follow the various practices of loading and unloading ballast and study how the most diverse actors—from captains to so-called “ballast coolies”—negotiated the necessity of travelling in ballast. It will identify the problems and obligations resulting from the unintended consequences of the practice and show how it linked "the global" and "the local." In so doing, the lecture will shed light on an unwanted by-product of globalization and its impact on global actors and environments.

Roland Wenzlhuemer is Professor of Modern History at LMU Munich and the director of the Munich Centre for Global History. His research and teaching focus on the history of globalization processes in the long nineteenth century. In this context, he has worked on the transformation of colonial export economies, the history of worldwide telecommunication networks or transit experiences on long-distance steamship passages. He nurses a specific interest in the theoretical and methodological foundations of Global History.

Francesca Trivellato is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. A leading historian of early modern Italy and continental Europe, Francesca Trivellato has made significant contributions to our understanding of the organization and culture of the marketplace in the pre-industrial world. Trivellato's research has revitalized the study of early economic history, where her influential work on cross-cultural trade intersects the fields of European, Jewish, Mediterranean, and global history, religion, and capitalism.