The Edwin Fox: How an Ordinary Sailing Ship Connected the World in the Age of Globalisation, 1850–1914.

banner image of speakersBoyd Cothran and Adrian Shubert with the book cover of "The Edwin Fox" in the middle of speaker images
Image: Boyd Cothran and Adrian Shubert, The Edwin Fox

A seminar with Professor Adrian Shubert and Assoc. Professor Boyd Cothran

It began as a small, slow, and unadorned sailing vessel—in a word, ordinary. Later, it was a weary workhorse in the age of steam. But the story of the Edwin Fox reveals how an everyday merchant ship drew together a changing world and its people in an extraordinary age of rising empires, sweeping economic transformation, and social change.

Built in Calcutta in 1853, the Edwin Fox was chartered by the British Navy as a troop transport during the Crimean War. In the following decades, it was sold, recommissioned, and refitted by an increasingly far-flung constellation of militaries and merchants. It sailed to exotic ports carrying luxury goods, mundane wares, and all kinds of people: not just soldiers and officials but indentured laborers brought from China to Cuba, convicts and settlers being transported from the British Empire to western Australia and New Zealand—with dire consequences for local Indigenous peoples—and others. But the power of this story rests in the everyday ways people, nations, economies, and ideas were knitted together in this foundational era of our modern world.

Boyd Cothran is an Associate Professor of U.S. history in the Department of History at York University. He is also the author of Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), which received the 2015 Robert M. Utley Prize for the best book in military history from the Western History Association. He has also co-edited two volumes of global history, Women Warriors and National Heroes: Global Histories (Bloomsbury, 2020) and Bridging Cultural Concepts of Nature: Indigenous People and Protect Spaces of Nature (University of Helsinki Press, 2021).

Adrian Shubert is a University Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at York University. As a historian of Spain in the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, his articles and books have been published in both English and Spanish. His most recent book is The Sword of Luchana: Baldomero Espartero and the Making of Modern Spain (2021). He is also director of the Virtual Museum of the Spanish Civil War ( He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and twice decorated by the king of Spain for his contributions to Spanish culture.

Date & time

Wed 24 Apr 2024, 4.15–5.30pm


Level 1 Auditorium (1.28), RSSS Building 146 Ellery Cres. Acton 2601, ACT


Prof. Adrian Shubert (York University)
Assoc. Prof. Boyd Cothran (York University)


School of History


David Romney Smith


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