Ticketed event

Essential Information

Type Talks and tours
National Maritime Museum
Date and Times 7th November 2023
Prices Pay what you can | Recommended ticket price £10

Free Entry for Members . Not a member? Join now

Join us for an evening lecture by Professor Sujit Sivasundaram as he discusses the environmental history of the Indian Ocean. The talk will be preceded by a drinks reception hosted in the historical surroundings of the National Maritime Museum, and the premier of short documentary feature ‘Beneath the Blue: The Maluku’s Abyss’ by science communicator and documentary film producer Gusti Ayu Ismayanti.

The drinks reception will begin at 5pm, with arrivals anytime between 5pm and 6pm, when the screening begins.

This event is part of the extended programme of Beyond the Ocean’s Depths: Revisiting the Challenger Expedition (1872-1876) Interdisciplinary Conference. Click here to find out more. 

Beneath the Blue - Film Poster

Film Screening

Beneath the Blue

‘Beneath the Blue’ raises the conversation about the potential and risks of deep-ocean mining in Maluku, Indonesia. Since the first arrival of HMS Challenger 150 years ago, deep-sea research in Maluku has been conducted continuously. While transnational corporations seek to use the ocean, the people of Maluku ask “How much do we need? How much is enough?” The film delves into diverse perspectives, encompassing the historical HMS Challenger Expedition, the local community’s viewpoint, and the current oceanographic research by the Indonesia Research Institute to raise awareness about the importance of responsible research in the deep ocean.

A picture of professor Sujit Sivasundaram

Keynote Lecture

The Slimiest of Creatures and When History Goes under the Sea 

It is an easy candidate for the slimiest of creatures: the sea cucumber or bêche-de-mer, also called, trapang, derived from the Malay, teripang. In more ways than one this is a slippery creature: slippery to cast into a historical narrative, slippery to pin down in scientific terms, slippery to follow as a trading commodity, and slippery to hold. In this short lecture, Sujit Sivasundaram will reflect on how Western science of the sea sought to come to terms with the sea cucumber and also how it was limited in what it uncovered. 

Though the paper begins with G. E. Rumpf, a Dutch naturalist, who was going blind, it is a plea to write the environmental history of the under sea from the perspective of Australian Aboriginal people, Southeast Asian communities and enslaved people in the waters around the Maluku islands which feature in 'Beneath the Blue' which accompanies this talk. And then, it is a call to centre the sea-cucumber. The human eye can only partially comprehend a rich undersea history. Thinking forward in time to the nineteenth century, the talk provides a prehistory to the science practised on the 'Challenger' expedition.


Sujit Sivasundaram is Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge. He is author of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire, which won the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.

He was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for medieval, early modern and modern history in 2012 and is a fellow  of the Royal Historical Society. 



Ticketing Information

Members go free.
All other tickets, pay what you can starting at £5.
Recommended ticket price £10.

Tickets include entry to the drinks reception from 5:00pm to 6:00pm and access to the one hour talk and film showing.