Transoceanic Voyages

Throughout the 19th century, whale oil was a natural resource that was in high demand as both a lubricant and a means of illumination for the growing cities of the Atlantic World. One can even say: It fuelled the Industrial Revolution in this period. After having exhausted whale populations in the Atlantic, whaling ships from both London and New England ports ventured from the 1790s onwards into the Pacific.

Such transoceanic whaling voyages, which could last up to four years, required regular stops for provisions and supplies at ports and islands. During their stopovers, members of whaling ships came in touch with local communities, traded not only guns and goods, but also employed Indigenous peoples on various islands in the Pacific Ocean. As such, these transoceanic whaling voyages put “thousands of people from around the world on the move”1 and “provided mobility and travel, which facilitated a kind of freedom that was not [always] present on land”2. The whaling ventures departed from Atlantic ports followed the whale migration patterns as far as the Pacific in order to fulfil “the [growing] demands of a vast network of consumers”3 for its oil.

My dissertation project shows on the example of the Swain and Starbuck families how Quaker whalers constituted an interaction space with Native American, African and African American individuals already in the Atlantic. Having these backgrounds in mind, I argue that these families had already formed a specific interaction space in the Atlantic, when they reached the Pacific from 1790 onwards. I aim to reconstruct these multiple socioeconomic relationships of these global interactions between whalers and Māori Iwi between 1790 and 1840.

This research blog shall give my dissertation project a (digital) audience and allow me to discuss specific topics and aspects, to introduce research details, key publications, and accompany me in the academic journey on a regular base.

  1. Wanhalla, Angela (2013): Matters of the Heart. A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, p. 7 []
  2. Russell, Lynette (2012): Roving Mariners. Australian aboriginal whalers and sealers in the southern oceans, 1790-1870. New York: State University of New York Press, p. 97 []
  3. Shoemaker, Nancy (2014): Living with whales. Documents and oral histories of Native New England whaling history. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, p. 4 []

Author: Haureh Hussein

Haureh Hussein is Doctoral Researcher and Research Associate in the DFG research project ‘Family Business: Creating a “Maritime Contact Zone” in the Colonial Anglo-World, 1790–1840’ at the Trier University. He studied history and political science at Trier and at the Catholic University Leuven in Belgium. He can be contacted via his blog: www.transoceanic.hypotheses.org/

2 thoughts on “Transoceanic Voyages”

  1. Haureh, congratulations to you and Eva on the DFG funding of the research. An exciting time to be undertaking these historical investigations. I would be pleased to help where I can.
    Best wishes.

    1. Dear Chris, thank you so much. It`s been a while since we have met us in Trier. Thank you, I will come back to your offer at some point in the future. All best

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