Islands and the British Empire in the Age of Sail (Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series): Douglas Hamilton, John McAleer

Islands are not just geographical units or physical facts; their importance and significance arise from the human activities associated with them. The maritime routes of sailing ships, the victualling requirements of their sailors, and the strategic demands of seaborne empires in the age of sail – as well as their intrinsic value as sources of rare commodities – meant that islands across the globe played prominent parts in imperial consolidation and expansion. This volume examines the various ways in which islands (and groups of islands) contributed to the establishment, extension, and maintenance of the British Empire in the age of sail. Thematically related chapters explore the geographical, topographical, economic, and social diversity of the islands that comprised a large component of the British Empire in an era of rapid and significant expansion.

Although many of these islands were isolated rocky outcrops, they acted as crucial nodal points, providing critical assistance for ships and men embarked on the long-distance voyages that characterised British overseas activities in the period. Intercontinental maritime trade, colonial settlement, and scientific exploration and experimentation would have been impossible without these oceanic islands. They also acted as sites of strategic competition, contestation, and conflict for rival European powers keen to outstrip each other in developing and maintaining overseas markets, plantations, and settlements.

The importance of islands outstripped their physical size, the populations they sustained, or their individual economic contribution to the imperial balance sheet. Standing at the centre of maritime routes of global connectivity, islands offer historians of the British Empire fresh perspectives on the intercontinental communication, commercial connections, and territorial expansion that characterised that empire.

About the Author

Douglas Hamilton, Professor of History, Sheffield Hallam University, UK,John McAleer, Associate Professor of Imperial and Global History, University of Southampton, UK

Douglas Hamilton (Sheffield Hallam University) is a historian of the British Empire in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, with a particular focus on the Caribbean. His publications include Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World (2005), and (as editor) Slavery, Memory and Identity (2012)
and Jacobitism, Enlightenment and Empire (2014). He is currently working on a history of the Royal Navy in the eighteenth-century Caribbean.

John McAleer (University of Southampton) is a historian of the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, situating the history of empire in its global and maritime contexts. His recent monograph, Britain’s Maritime Empire: Southern Africa, the
South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, 1763-1820 (2016), focused on the relationship between Britain’s maritime empire and the crucial strategic locations at the gateway to the Indian Ocean World. He is currently working on a history of travellers’ experiences of the voyage to Asia in the age of sail.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Oxford University Press (August 17, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 019884722X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0198847229
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.13 pounds

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