ttt: event The Prize Papers - Research Themes, Ideas, Methods | H-Soz-Kult. Kommunikation und Fachinformation für die Geschichtswissenschaften | Geschichte im Netz | History in the web

The Prize Papers - Research Themes, Ideas, Methods

The Prize Papers - Research Themes, Ideas, Methods

Prize Papers Project
Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg
Vom - Bis
24.10.2019 - 25.10.2019
Prof. Dr. Dagmar Freist / Lucas Haasis

The National Archives in London hold an amazing collection called the prize papers, which consist of ten thousands of different documents, in more than 19 different languages, global in scope with places of origin around the world, from about 1652 to 1815. The documents have survived because of early modern sea warfare and the capturing of enemy ships. In order to prove the legitimacy of these captures extant court procedures followed with the aim to double prove the origin of a captured ship. To this end, the ship papers, and the entire shipload including personal belongings and mail in transit were transferred to the High Court of Admirality as 'witnesses' - and they are still there, filling - together with the ensuing court papers - over 4.000 boxes with still largely unsorted sources, among them 160.000 undelivered letters written by men, women and children across the social scale.

The historical context of the collection is European overseas expansion, colonialism, wars, slave trade, resistance and upheaval, migration, growing trading networks and new consumption patterns.
The nature and abundance of the documents - letters, diaries, personal archives, exercise books, medical and scientific treatises, newspapers, colonial administration, ships papers, lists of cargo, inventories, account books, to name but a few - allows new insights into everyday practices and emotions of people on the move as well as the study of migration patterns, trading routes, power structures, or attitudes and discourses. What makes this collection so special is the microscopic approach it allows to almost all aspects of the movement of people and things around the globe, and the encounter of people of disperse origin. The microhistorical perspective on global phenomena brings to light agency, subjectivities and the contingencies which constitute the global, thus counteracting the conflation of global phenomena with macrohistorical phenomena, and the reduction of the global to structures and institutions.

With these remarkable features, the Prize Papers collection is unique in the world, and it represents a true treasure trove for future research. At the same time, such an abundance of unexplored source material and the manifold possible research opportunities it creates pose great challenges to researchers, which in turn comes with great responsibilities. How do we cope with and how do we appropriately approach such a vast amount and such a unique variety of records? Which new research themes can be developed, which research approaches could we develop to deal with and to pay tribute to the special features of this collection? Thinking further, from a methodological point of view, how do we ensure and actually go about the decentering of our Eurocentric perspectives in our research while working on a collection that directly emerged from and was shaped by European colonial power struggles? Could current research approaches like Global Microhistory, entangled histories or histoire croisée help us not to perpetuate Eurocentric and colonial narratives through our research? Or do such approaches rather contribute to the problematic fact that the origin of this collection falls into oblivion? It will be fundamental to collaborate with researchers from other parts of the world in order to confront each other with our different approaches to the material and its complex origins.

This international exploratory workshop will discuss the chances and challenges the prize papers offer as a historical source for the study of global connectivities, confrontations, approbriations, and of people and things on the move. In addition, it will focus on the legal framework, regulations, personal strategies, and the scope of action within international relations at war and peace. The workshop brings together international scholars and early career researchers who have used numerous documents from the prize papers and complementary records to address questions such as trading diasporas in the Indian Ocean, the juridification of 'international' maritime conflicts, religious diversity in global contexts, slavery, and informal transnational trading networks. Speakers include Sebouh Aslanian, UCLA, Anna Brinkman, University of Warwick, Sheryllynne Haggerty, University of Nottingham, Dagmar Freist, University of Oldenburg, and Christina Beckers, Alberto Winterberg and Lucas Haasis, all University of Oldenburg. The workshop is part of the Prize Papers Project at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg and The National Archives London UK, which is funded by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

For further information contact Prof. dr. Dagmar Freist, director of the pize papers project,, or Lucas Haasis, coordination of research and funding,



Dagmar Freist

Institut für Geschichte der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg
Geschichte der frühen Neuzeit
0441 798-4640
Veröffentlicht am
Weitere Informationen
Land Veranstaltung
Sprach(en) der Veranstaltung
Sprache der Ankündigung