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Department of Political Science, in association with Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS), Research Seminar Series

  • Date: Friday 15th December 2017

  • Time: 1-2pm

  • Venue: Sociology Conference Room, 6th floor, 3 College Green, Trinity College Dublin

Jason Sharman

The Department of Political Science is pleased to invite you to a talk by:

Jason Sharman (University of Cambridge)


Gunboat Diplomacy: Power and Profit at Sea in the Making of the International System

The making of the international system from c.1500 reflected distinctively maritime dynamics, especially 'gunboat diplomacy', the 'profit from power' strategy of using naval force for commercial gain. Much more than in land warfare in Europe, war and trade at sea in the wider world were often inseparable, with violence being a central part of the commercial strategies of state, private and hybrid actors alike. Gunboat diplomacy was idiosyncratically European: large and small non-Western powers with equivalent technology almost never sought to advance mercantile aims through large-scale naval coercion, instead adopting a laissez faire separation of war and commerce. Changes in international norms first restricted the practice of gunboat diplomacy to states in the nineteenth century, and then led to its effective abolition in the twentieth century, as it became illegitimate to resolve trade and sovereign debt disputes through inter-state violence. Evidence is drawn from macro-historical comparisons of successive European-Asian encounters from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.

Professor Sharman welcomes you to review a copy of his paper prior to the talk.