Call for Papers: “Water in World History” (2023 Conference)



Please join us from 19-22 October 2023 for the annual meeting of SEWHA, the southeastern regional affiliate of the World History Association. The conference will be held in face-to-face format only. The Department of History at College of Charleston is our generous institutional sponsor for this year’s annual conference. Our keynote speaker, the esteemed environmental historian John R. McNeill (Georgetown University), appears courtesy of W.W. Norton & Co. Several sessions will be held in collaboration with the International Maritime History Association.

The non-binding theme for this year’s conference is “Water in World History.” We invite participants to consider how water has shaped history on our blue planet from ancient times to the present. Papers might examine water as a substance, a natural resource, a habitat, or an agent of ecological change. Presenters could discuss historical human engagement with wetlands, lakes and rivers, oceans, or marine locales. Other suitable topics include maritime cultures and communities, mentalities or beliefs, overseas trade or migrations, shipwrecks, maritime law, marine industries, or the built marine environment. Topics concerning the historiography or public history of water are encouraged. As always, SEWHA also welcomes proposals about other regions, peoples, and questions in world history.

We encourage proposals for individual papers, panels and roundtable discussions, information sessions, interactive media presentations, and pedagogical demonstrations in accordance with our mission to advance “studies of world history through research, teaching, and publication.” INDIVIDUAL PROPOSALS should include an abstract (250 words maximum), contact information, affiliation, and a current CV. GROUP PROPOSALS should be submitted as a single document containing a panel abstract (150 words maximum), brief abstracts for each presenter (150 words), the organizer’s contact information, and a current CV with affiliation for each presenter, moderator, discussant, etc. Sessions are 75 minutes in length, and each session may include three presenters and a chair/moderator. The deadline for proposals is 15 AUGUST 2023.

SEWHA is proud to offer prize competitions for the BEST UNDERGRADUATE PAPER and BEST GRADUATE PAPER ($250 EACH). Winners will be chosen based on research presented at the conference, and their accomplishments will receive recognition on the SEWHA website. Judges will give consideration to thesis, method, historiographic setting, interpretation of evidence, craft, and time management. Please declare your intent to compete and bracket (undergraduate or graduate) when submitting a proposal as outline above. Contestants must be students enrolled during the 2023 calendar year.

Please send proposals, questions, or award inquiries to Eric Oakley (SEWHA President, East Carolina University) at

Our partners, the International Maritime History Association, will also sponsor a prize for BEST MARITIME PAPER ($200). The prize includes an option to submit the paper for publication in the International Journal of Maritime History on a preferred basis. Please indicate your interest in this prize when submitting a proposal to SEWHA. Please direct prize-specific questions to IMHA President, Ingo Heidbrink (Old Dominion University), at

Charleston, South Carolina, is among the most beautiful seaports in the United States. Founded in 1670, the town is home to numerous museums, historic sites, and institutions of higher education. Charleston boasts a vibrant visual and performing arts scene, and its restaurants are second to none. Take some time out during the SEWHA conference for a stroll along the waterfront, a boat excursion in the harbor, or an unforgettable dinner on the town. College of Charleston, our institutional sponsor, is the oldest university in South Carolina.