Franziska is a doctoral research fellow at the graduate school Global Intellectual History jointly run by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität Berlin. She holds a bachelor‘s degree in History and Political Science (Freie Universität Berlin, 2016) and a master’s degree in History (Freie Universität Berlin, 2019). Her research interests lie in the field of early modern maritime history, with a particular focus on maritime spaces and early modern events of shipwreck.
Shipwreck and the English East India Company (18th Century)
Franziska’s project looks into the perception and sense-making of wrecked East Indiamen in 18th-century England. Even though small in numbers, shipwreck was a momentous event within the realm of the English East India Company (EIC) and unsettled both company members and the public. Given the well-established topos of the “ship of state”, all vessels wrecked could potentially become metaphors for things more meaningful than the ship itself. However, the shipwreck of an East Indiaman in particular spurred debates for by the 18th century the EIC had become a touchstone for anxieties over the effect of commerce, luxury, and imperialism upon the nation. Consequently, debates involving wrecked company vessels often centred around the question of the usefulness and rightfulness of the EIC’s world-spanning activities. For this reason, shipwreck becomes Franziska’s starting point for tracing how an early modern maritime nation situated itself in a progressively globalising world and how this world, conversely, reached deep into its self-awareness. Approaching shipwreck as a moment of global rupture and crisis, the project ultimately wants to argue that shipwrecked East Indiamen became a powerful trigger for contemporaries to reflect on a new global.