Annegreet: What motivated you towards doing a research fellowship at King’s College London?
Erik: At the risk of sounding like a hermit or maniac, I have to say that the sources were my first motivation. London really is the main hub for anyone interested in navies and maritime security in the nineteenth century, because the Royal Navy was without a doubt the largest naval force at the time – and it accordingly played a big role in security efforts at sea. So the Admiralty collections of the National Archives in Kew, the personal papers of navy commanders in the British Library and the ship logs at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich were really what brought me here. A very close second are the scholars I get to work with here: particularly my current ‘mentor’ Michael Rowe, who is an expert on the European history of the Napoleonic and post-Napoleonic era, as well as all the excellent scholars in King’s War Studies Department. In addition, London’s cultural offers and nightlife options were not unappealing either.
Annegreet: What is your current research focused on?
Erik: Besides wrapping up my previous project on Mediterranean piracy (with books coming out in English and Dutch), I am currently working on the role of navies in the pursuit of collective security at sea, again in the Mediterranean. I want to show that nineteenth-century navies cooperated in a range of fields (diplomacy, law, science, communications) and were real centres of innovation when it comes to the actual practices of security. Rather than following the old narratives of hegemony and supremacy, I want to show that attempts to secure the sea could only work through international collaboration and partnerships between different societal groups and cultures. This should change the way we understand the history of the nineteenth-century Mediterranean and the nature of imperial power there, which revolved around contact and cooperation.
Annegreet: How do you see your role in the network?
Erik: As the person dragging everyone to sea, reminding them of a maritime world beyond the tables of high diplomacy and ambassadorial palaces. Out on the water, sailors, merchants and admirals were just as important for – and had great impact on – nineteenth-century attempts to foster security.
Annegreet: How do you relate to the other members of the core team?
Erik: To stick with some overblown maritime imagery, they are like my motley crew with whom I sail the high seas of academic exploration. Seriously, they are my biggest source of inspiration and always provide much-needed support in writing, thinking and talking about the past.
Annegreet: What do you think the value of the SHN will be?
Erik: Its main value, I think, is social, without forgetting the scientific impact that the SHN could have. Like any functioning network or conference series, it brings like-minded people together and allows them to benefit from each other’s insights, ideas and enthusiasm. That in itself is already invaluable, regardless of how the SHN might end up changing how scholars approach the topic of security.
Erik de Lange is affiliated to Utrecht University as an assistant professor. After having worked as a Ph.D. candidate within the ERC-funded research project ‘Securing Europe, fighting its enemies 1815-1914’, He is now doing research on naval cooperation and the international ordering of the Mediterranean Sea in the nineteenth century. Combining naval, diplomatic and cultural history, part of the archival work for this research has received funding from the Humboldt Yale History Network. He has defended my dissertation ‘Menacing Tides. Security, Piracy and Empire in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean’ in February 2020 at Utrecht University, and is now readying the manuscript for publication. Besides the history of the Mediterranean in general, his research interests include: violence and law, maritime security, nineteenth-century imperialism, practices of diplomacy and the history of knowledge.
de Lange, E. (28.02.2020). Beyond the Littoral: Imperial Expansion and the Specter of Piracy, 1830-1848.
de Lange, E. (01.01.2019). From Augarten to Algiers – Security and ‘piracy’ around the Congress of Vienna. In Beatrice de Graaf, Ido de Haan & Brian Vick (Eds.), Securing Europe after Napoleon – 1815 and the New European Security Culture (pp. 231-248) (18 p.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press