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HIST 2700: History of Pirates and Piracy: Assignment

For your final assignment, you will be researching modern (21st century) piracy in order to analyze it in comparison to historical piracy. You will be working primarily with news articles, policy papers and other current documents to define and analyze current piracy.

Due Dates

Oct. 4:   Submit topic online (geographic area you will be researching)

Nov. 29:   Part I Modern Piracy (individual write up)  (20%)

     Part II Comparative Essay (individual write up) (70%)

Dec. 6-8:  Group projects/presentations (10%)


Minimum 6 documents (news articles, policy papers, legal cases, etc.)

List in a full bibliography at the end of questions in Part I

Footnote citations for the essay

Full bibliography of all sources at the end of the essay. You do not need to include class notes in

either footnotes or bibliography.

Part I. Modern Piracy

Select 1 place where piracy is currently or has been recently carried out (there are several around the globe) to research; locate at least 6 significant sources to draw information from.

Write a response to each of the questions below based on your research. Each question should be answered fully and formally, in 1-2 paragraphs. 

1. Who are pirates currently in this region: nationality, age, class, gender? Is this a homogenous group or are their variations in who participates in piracy?

2. Who are the victims?

3. How do pirates find/target their victims?

4. How do these pirates profit? Is this an intrisic or episodic piracy?

5. Why do they become pirates? What circumstances drive them to piracy and what enables this

piracy to continue?  

6. What are the short- and long-term effects of this piracy on politics/commerce/trade in the region or more broadly? Does this piracy have larger effects (scarcity of goods, higher costs to consumers, difficulty finding local labor, etc)?

7. How has the COVID pandemic affected the amount or type of piracy in this region?

8. What modern technology do pirates use; how does this affect their ability or their approach to attacking ships?

9. How is this piracy being fought? How effective are the efforts?

10. More broadly, who has legal jurisdiction over the sea(s) today? Who has the right to try captured pirates?

Part II. Comparative Essay.

Compare and contrast modern and historical piracy, giving at least 3 similarities and 3 differences. You may compare the modern piracy you researched to any era in history but need to provide detailed information to support your analysis. Be specific in what historical era you choose for comparison, then think about the general questions of Who (pirates and victims) they are / Where they are / Why they act / How piracy is carried out / How it is enabled and  fought. [5-8 pages]

Part III. Group project

You will be put into groups related to the geographic location you choose to research. Together, each group should pool your resources to put together a short class presentation of no more than 10 minutes with some type of visuals.