Essential Information

Type Conferences
Location
National Maritime Museum
Date and Times Past event

This event is in part sponsored by the Challenger Society for Marine Science, the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies and the British Society for the History of Science

With the environmental threat of global warming, rising seas and biodiversity loss, knowledge of the ocean is more important than ever. The Challenger Expedition, which circumnavigated the globe from 1872 to 1876 with the aim to explore the deep sea, has been celebrated as a foundational moment in the history of oceanography.

How can Challenger’s historical data, specimens and ocean sediments help our understanding of climate change today? How are historians grappling with the colonial legacies of nineteenth-century scientific voyages, and how are museum curators putting Challenger on display? Whose perspectives and stories are missing from Challenger’s seemingly well-known story?

This hybrid conference will bring together an international group of speakers from the fields of marine science, arts, humanities and museum curation to explore these questions. Based at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, as well as online, the programme will include two days of talks, a curator-led viewing of Challenger archives, including the original Challenger ship plans and charts, gallery tours, and an evening event and reception. Lunch and refreshments are provided.

People from any background and non-academic participants are warmly welcome to attend. The programme offers a range of talks and discussions for anyone interested in the early exploration of the deep sea, from the latest scientific research concerning climate change to new historical methods. If you have any questions about the day, registration or accessibility, please email research@rmg.co.uk.

 

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A picture of professor Sujit Sivasundaram

Featuring Keynote Speakers

Sujit Sivasundaram

Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge and author of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

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A picture of Professor Helen M. Rozwadowski

Helen M. Rozwadowski

Professor of History and founder of the Maritime Studies program at the University of Connecticut, and author of Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans.

Schedule Overview

Tuesday 7 November 2023
National Maritime Museum, Lecture Theatre (Ground Floor)

09:30 - 10:30:  Registration

10:30 - 10:40: Welcome - Paddy Rodgers, Director, Royal Museums Greenwich

10:40 - 11:10: Introduction to the Symposium – Erika Jones

11.15 - 12:30: Panel 1: Evidence from the Past: Challenger Materials and Data

12.30 - 14:00: Lunch and self-guided gallery viewings

14.00  - 15:15: Panel 2: The Royal Navy and the Making of the Challenger Expedition

15.45 - 17:00: Panel 3: Photography and the Challenger Expedition

17:00 - 18:00: Evening Reception

18:00 – 19:00: Living with the Sea: Dialogue Between Past and Present, featuring Isma Yanti, environmental documentarian and keynote speaker Professor Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge

Wednesday 8 November 2023
National Maritime Museum, Lecture Theatre (Ground Floor)

09:00 - 9:15: Registration (doors open from 08.45)

09:15 - 09:30: An Artist’s View, Alice Strange, New Zealand

09:30 - 10:45: Panel 4: Global Expedition, Local Contexts

10:45 - 11:15: Break

11:15 - 12:30: Panel 5: Challenger Reimagined: Exploring Time, Place, and Environment

12:30 - 14:00: Lunch

13:00 - 13: 45: Investigating Challenger: view original Challenger Expedition materials held at the RMG such as Challenger logbooks, journals written by officers and sailors, photograph albums and the original 1872 HMS Challenger refit ship plans. (Seminar Room)

14:00 - 15:15: Panel 6: Challenger in Museums

15:15 - 15:45: Break

15:45 - 17:00: Panel 7: Scientific Legacies

17:00 - 17:45: ‘Revisiting Challenger’ Concluding Symposium: featuring keynote speaker Professor Helen M Rozwadowski, Professor of History & founder of the Maritime Studies program at the University of Connecticut

 

Programme details - Tuesday 7 November

09:30 - 10:30: Registration with tea and coffee

10:30 - 10:40: Welcome - Paddy Rodgers, Royal Museums Greenwich

10:40 - 11:15: Introduction to the conference

‘Revisiting the Challenger Expedition: New Directions for the 150th Anniversary’ - Erika Jones (Curator of Navigation and Oceanography, Royal Museums Greenwich)

11:15 - 12:30: Panel 1: Evidence from the Past: Challenger Materials and Data

‘Late Nineteenth-Century Baselines for Ocean Climate Change Assessment’ - W John Gould, FRMetS (Emeritus Fellow, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton) 

‘The Challenger Sediments Collection at the Natural History Museum Continues to Release New Data on Ancient Climates and Atmospheres’ - Giles Miller, (Principal Curator in Charge of Fossil Invertebrates, Natural History Museum, London)

‘Mapping the Stars in the Wake of Challenger: How the Challenger Asteroidea Continues to Revolutionise Our Understanding of the Sea’ - Hugh Carter (Curator of Echinoderms, Natural History Museum, London)

12:30 – 14:00   Lunch Break

Self-guided tours of National Maritime Museum galleries such as:

Pacific Encounters: Discover hidden stories of exploration and exploitation

Poles Apart: Explore the world of RRS Sir David Attenborough

Polar Worlds: Explore life in extreme environments and discover the legacies of polar exploration

14:00 - 15:15: Panel 2: The Royal Navy and the Making of the Challenger Expedition

‘UKHO Archive: A Valuable Resource for Historians’ -  Adrian Webb (UK Hydrographic Office, Taunton)

‘The Conversion of HMS Challenger in 1872’ - Jeremy Michell (Senior Curator of Maritime Technologies, Royal Museums Greenwich)

‘A Brave and Hardy Crew: Towards a More Inclusive History of the Challenger Voyage’ - Philip Pearson (Independent Scholar)

15:15 - 15:45: Break

15:45 - 17:00: Panel 3: Photography and the Challenger Expedition

‘Beyond Objectivity: Exploring Interconnections Between Visual Culture, Science, and Society through the HMS Challenger Expedition’ - Stephanie Hood (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

‘Seeing the Other: Colonialism in the Photographs and Letters of the Young Zoologist Rudolf von Willemoes-Suhm’ - Martin Göllnitz (University of Marburg, Germany)

‘Investigating the Photographed Contributors to Challenger’s Scientific Mission: Research Strategies for Creating More Inclusive Histories’ - Rebecca Martin (Caird Fellow, Royal Museums Greenwich)

17:00 - 18:00: Evening Drinks Reception

18:00 - 19:00: Living with the Sea: Dialogue Between Past and Present (Included in conference ticket)

Premier of documentary film, ‘Beneath the Blue: The Maluku’s Abyss’ (15min, 2023), Director Isma Yanti (University College London)

Keynote lecture, 'The Slimiest of Creatures and When History Goes under the Sea', 
Sujit Sivasundaram (University of Cambridge)

Programme details - Wednesday 8 November

09:00 - 09:15: Registration (doors open from 08.45)

09:15 - 09:30: An Artist’s View  Alice Strange, New Zealand

09:30 - 10:45: Panel 4: Global Expedition, Local Contexts

‘Situating the Local in a Global Expedition’ - Emma Zuroski (Independent Scholar, Auckland, New Zealand)

‘The Removal of Ancestral Remains from Southern Africa by Challenger Staff’ - Daisy Chamberlain (Assistant Curator: History of Science, Royal Museums Greenwich)

‘The HMS Challenger and Spain: Inquiries in the Iberian Region and Colonies, Circulation of News and Significance for the Spanish Oceanography 1872-1886 - Esteban Del Pozo-Márquez (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)

10:45 - 11:15: Tea and coffee break

11:15 - 12:30: Panel 5: Challenger Reimagined: Exploring Change through Time, Place, and Environment

‘Enduring Separation in the Letters of Joseph Matkin: Negotiating Forms of Longing on the Challenger Expedition’ - Nicholas Pritchard (University of Cambridge)

‘Between Lay and Me: Navigating Representations of Change in Rephotographing Challenger’s Japan’ - Gary McLeod (University of Tsukuba, Japan)

‘HMS Challenger and the Anthropocene Ocean’ Gillen Wood (Professor of Environmental Humanities and English, University of Illinois)

12:30 - 14:00: Lunch

13:00 - 13:45: Investigating Challenger: view original Challenger Expedition materials held at the RMG (Seminar Room, across the hall from the NMM Lecture Room)

View a selection of items held in the Caird Library archives such as Challenger logbooks, journals written by officers and sailors, scientific reports and contemporary publications.

For the first time, a group of photograph albums made by John Hynes, an officer on board Challenger, and the original 1872 HMS Challenger refit ship plans will be on display to the public. Conference participants have the opportunity to browse this rare collection and discuss with museum curators.

14:00 - 15:15: Panel 6: Challenger in Museums

‘Worlds Beneath the Waves: Telling the Story of HMS Challenger in the Context of the Royal Navy’ - Victoria Ingles (Principal Curator, National Museum of the Royal Navy)

‘Displaying Challenger at Worcester Museum’ - Kerry Whitehouse (Curatorial Officer, Museums Worcestershire)

‘Monsters of the Deep: Challenger on Display at NMMC’ - Stuart Slade (Director, National Maritime Museum Cornwall)

15:15 - 15:45: Break

15:45 - 17:00: Panel 7: Scientific Legacies

‘Fisheries Research Vessel Explorer and the Long Legacy of HMS Challenger’ - Meredith Greiling (Principal Curator of Technology, National Museums Scotland)

‘A Scottish Expedition – Maybe? But a Clear Scottish Legacy’ - Nicholas J P Owens (Executive Director, Scottish Association for Marine Science)

‘Beyond Challenger: The Challenger Expedition as an Allegory for 20th Century Ocean Sciences’ - Sam Robinson (University of York)

17:00 - 17:45: ‘Revisiting Challenger’ Concluding Symposium

Keynote lecture, ‘The Uses of Challenger History, Then and Now’ - Professor Helen M Rozwadowski, Professor of History & founder of the Maritime Studies program at the University of Connecticut