Maritime Anthropology

CRD15 Elective 2 ECTS
Period 1 week 09.11.2020 - 13.11.2020
Instructor Dr. Laura Alice Watt


The course is about the social and cultural dimensions of coastal communities through the lens of anthropology. The course focuses on the relationship between humans and the marine environment in contemporary and historical human cultures.
The course includes an examination of archaeological records, histories of environmental change, cultural heritage and the record from submerged landscapes and coastal sites. Attention will be paid to the conflicts of development vs. conservation and current threats to the coastal zones. Students will learn about anthropological theories, traditional and local knowledge, maritime history and folklore.


On completion of the course, a student:

  • can explain academic concepts used to understand the anthropological dimensions of coastal and marine systems.
  • can describe the main legislation, methods, principles and techniques of underwater archaeological investigation
  • can explain how maritime and coastal heritage is presented to the public, and which conflicts occur regarding heritage and conservation
  • can explain international rules and treaties regarding marine resources and cultural heritage
  • can discuss challenges of connecting anthropological perspectives and the study of ecological systems.


Laura Alice Watt is a professor of environmental history and policy at Sonoma State University, in Northern California.

She is in Ísafjörður with a Fulbright-NSF Arctic Scholar grant to conduct historical research in Iceland. Her project aims to document the environmental history of a remote corner of Iceland’s Westfjords, specifically the Árneshreppur municipality and surrounding region of the Strandir coast, where a hydropower plant proposal has generated recent controversy.

At Sonoma State, she teaches a number of courses in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning and is a  Graduate Coordinator for the Cultural Resource Management masters program.

Outside of school she is an avid photographer and sailor.