Gelina Harlaftis, “Creating Global Shipping: From the Vagliano Brothers to Aristotle Onassis”
The lecture is based on the author’s recent book, Creating Global Shipping: Aristotle Onassis, the Vagliano Brothers and the Business of Shipping, c.1820-1970 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019). It explores the evolution of the European shipping firm through the study of two Greek shipping firms, which provide a prime example of the regional European maritime businesses that evolved to serve Europe’s international trade and eventually the global economy. The study of the Vagliano Brothers indicates how Greek shipping underwent transformation from local shipping and trading to international shipping and ship management. The Onassis case indicates how international shipping was transformed to global shipping business.
Shipping has been a leading sector in European economic growth for centuries. By the end of the twentieth century Greeks owned more ships than any other nationality in the world, and the shipowners played a fundamental role in global connectivity and economic growth. The author’s study contributes to the understanding of the shipping business during the two globalization waves. The Vaglianos developed during the first massive wave of globalization which started in the second half of the nineteenth century to shrink during the interwar period, and the Onassis business depicts the explosion of the second globalization wave in the second half of the twentieth century. These two firms contributed to the process of global economic integration by inventing and re-inventing Greek and ultimately European southern and northern maritime tradition. Because this is not only the story of the Greeks. It can also be read as the history of the evolution of the European maritime tradition involved in tramp/bulk shipping.
Gelina Harlaftis is Director of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) since 2017. She has graduated from the University of Athens and has completed her graduate studies in the Universities of Cambridge (M.Phil.) and Oxford (D.Phil.). She started her academic career at the University of Piraeus (1990-2002), continued at the Ionian University (2003-2018), and is presently Professor of Maritime History in the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Crete. She was President of the International Maritime Economic History Αssociation (2004-2008). In 2009 she was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University, and in 2008 an Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., International Visiting Scholar in the Business History Program, Harvard Business School. She has published 26 books in English, Canadian and Greek publishing houses and over 60 articles in edited volumes and international peer-reviewed journals. Her last book is Creating Global Shipping: Aristotle Onassis, the Vagliano Brothers and the Business of Shipping, c.1820-1970, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019.