Historical Social Research

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Erik Gøbel, The Danish Algerian Sea Passes, 1747-1838: An Example of Extraterritorial Production of Human Security [Abstract]

This paper discusses the Danish “Algerian sea passes”, 1747-1838, as an example of production of “Human Security”. Since the seventeenth century, privateers from the Barbary States (i.e. Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, and Tripoli) had seized ships under the Danish flag and captured the sailors. Often they were ransomed, in the beginning by family members and from 1715 by the Slave Fund in Copenhagen. Beginning in 1746, however, Denmark signed peace treaties with the Barbary States. Thereafter Danish shipmasters would carry so-called Algerian sea passes which secured safe passage. The system worked well until after 1830 when the privateering business stopped. The Danish authorities issued 28,000 Algerian sea passes which produced specifically “Human Security” for hundreds of thousands of Danish sailors. Insights into this system may challenge our notion of the so-called “Westphalian System”.