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Amélia Polónia

Abstract

The paper discusses maritime dynamics as a global process in the Early Modern Age (1500-1800).  

European and worldwide maritime history is still centred on approaches which give prevalence to the study of political, military or economic rivalries and confrontation between European powers, and between them and the non-European powers. Studies centred on warfare, shipping, and economic dynamics promote the analysis of competition strategies and confrontation results. The prevalence of a political and military European historiography, as well as one centred on political and commercial rivalries, is responsible for that tendency. Nevertheless, maritime dynamics present themselves, from many points of view, as a main agent of communication and globalisation, not only between European spaces, but on a worldwide level. 

The focus of this panel points to this approach. It aims to question the interdependencies, the complementarities, the correlations, the global overseas and intercontinental dynamics, which depend on a process of cooperation and transfersat a global level. This process involves agents, economic dynamics and human diaspora which, rather than reinforcing barriers, cross boundaries, even between oceans. Seafaring and shipping : the transfer of techniques and technology; shipbuilding and crew constitution; trade networks; the connection between markets; population migration and demographic mobility between the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean became unavoidable mechanisms of the building of a new world in which linkages prevail over frontiers. 

The processes of Portuguese overseas expansion and colonial empire building provide the ultimate testimony for these syncretic strategies. The paper will discuss this thesis through a theoretical, analytical and synthetical approach centred on the logistics, the dynamics and the impact of this long term historical process.