Contemplating the necessity for international collaboration in maritime research

This has been a busy week. Instead of writing the dreaded chapter for a gazetteer, this week has been filled with meetings and seminars from visiting scholars undertaking maritime research around the globe. The arrival of our colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA), the University of Western Australia, Thessaloniki University (Greece) and Yokohama National University (Japan) has been coincidental; we were not hosting an international symposium or congress. This is just another week in the hub that is Southampton Archaeology and the SMMI.

Helen Farr

The Centre for Maritime Archaeology has been buzzing with activity.  There have been demonstrations of new methodologies and cutting edge technology, proposals for collaboration and the building of new relationships between faculties, disciplines and universities.  As I head up to the British Museum for the World University Network meeting to discuss Indian Ocean networks, the next couple of days will include more of the same.

This has led me to reflect on the importance of these relationships and whether in the current austerity of the United Kingdom, where chasing funding is becoming increasingly more difficult and student numbers are dropping, whether these international collaborations will provide a lifeline in the future? One example that comes to mind is that of the problem of practicing archaeology offshore, or, at great depths. The expense of such research is now prohibitive to the majority of UK academics working with national research grants.  The per diem of running a remote operated vehicle off shore would make most research bodies wince.

However, with budding International collaborative research projects, not only are we able to maximise our research, pool our resources and expand our research, but we have an avenue to disseminate our knowledge and results further. This is not only true within academia, but also across industry and it is for this reason that building and maintaining these international relationships on both a personal and University level is important for our future.