Empires, Privateering and the sea (EMPRISE)

2017 - 2022 (Ongoing)
Research project
EMPRISE studies the role of the importance of power at sea for the formation of empires and states from 1500-1856.

The project 'Empires, Privateering and the Sea' (EMPRISE) is a historical and comparative inquiry into the importance of forms of seaborne violence for the emergence, consolidation, and political transformation of European states and overseas empires in the period between c. 1500-1856, when the Treaty of Paris banned privateering.

EMPRISE will further our understanding of how this practice, which until now has been the object of little sustained scrutiny in the social sciences, contributed to reconfigure the global spatiality of empires in the early modern period. The question driving EMPRISE is how northern European states (England, France, the Netherlands), which had been excluded from the New World by papal treaties in the fifteenth century, not only went to sea, established thriving networks of maritime trade, but also came to replace the Iberian powers as successful overseas empire-builders. This change happened even though these states had no substantial navies until the turn of the sixteenth century, and knew precious little about what went on beyond their shores.

The main contention of EMPRISE is that privateers were central drivers of this change. Against leading accounts in the field, the key innovation of EMPRISE is the recognition that privateering and maritime predation were axiomatically neither inimical nor parasitical to state enterprises at sea; they were an intrinsic part of these efforts - at times the most important one.

The core team of EMPRISE will be Dr. Benjamin de Carvalho (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Halvard Leira at NUPI.

The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway through the programme FRIPRO Young research talents.

Project related events:

Networks of Practice at the Margins of Empire


Publication : ARTIKKEL

The Emergence of Sovereignty in the Wake of the Reformations

The elusiveness of the emergence of sovereignty represents a challenge to IR, as it leaves us with many possible beginnings. And as any new beginning ...
Publication : ARTIKKEL

What, When, and Where, Then, is the Concept of Sovereignty?

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the concept sovereignty for international relations (IR). And yet, understanding the historical emergence ...
Publication : ARTIKKEL

Introduction: The Emergence of Sovereignty: More Than a Question of Time

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the concept sovereignty for international relations (IR). And yet, understanding the historical emergence ...

Project Manager

Security policy  Historical IR  Oceans  Conflict  Europe  Trade  Diplomacy  South and Central America  North America

Morten Skumsrud Andersen

Senior Research Fellow,Head of the Research Group on Global Order and Diplomacy



Dr Xavier Guillaume, University of Groningen

Dr Julia Costa Lopez, University of Groningen

Prof Jens Bartelson, Lund University (Advisory Board)

Prof Lauren Benton, Vanderbilt University (Advisory Board)

Prof John Hobson, University of Sheffield (Advisory Board)

Sindre Gade Viksand (Research Assistant, 2017-2018)

Thu 16 Nov 2017
Time: 13:15 Europe/Oslo
Location: NUPI

Networks of Practice at the Margins of Empire

Dr Jeppe Mulich visits NUPI to present his ongoing research on empires and privateering in the Greater Caribbean.