Piracy and Plymouth: Privateering, Profiting and Policing
  • Sherwell United Reformed Church, North Hill, Plymouth PL4 8ER

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Pirates and piracy hold an enduring fascination but who were the real life Jack Sparrows and Ann Bonnys - thieving criminals or entrepreneurial privateers? 

Mixed-media presentations and hands-on activities will showcase the stories of piracy and smuggling through the ages, across the globe and in the South West. 

  • What drove the men and women involved in piracy and what were the dangers and risks of being caught? 
  • What is the difference between pirates, privateers and smugglers? 
  • How do we understand what are the modern-day equivalents of piracy and plunder? 
  • Is it bio-prospecting on the high seas or deep jungles, heritage crime or people smuggling? 

Children can learn more about the role and lives of pirates by following an interactive Treasure Island hunt searching for clues amongst the exhibits and playing games to navigate their way round and find the treasure, finishing in a Virtual Reality green-room experience to give a sense of being on a real pirate ship and/or speculating on marine resources at the bottom of the ocean.

This event is open to all and no booking is required.

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Biography: Jason Lowther

Jason is Associate Professor in Law and Associate Head for Research in the School of Law, Criminology and Government at Plymouth University. His principal teaching and research interests lie in environmental law and policy, cultural heritage law and drugs and the law. He is the case editor for the Journal of Environmental Law and Management and the environmental correspondent for Routledge’s Student Law Review.

Jason has published widely: his most recent publication was a chapter on the criminalisation of performance enhancing drugs in Routledge’s Handbook of Drugs and Sport. He has delivered projects related to wildlife crime with WWF, Defra, IFAW; and otherwise for the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. He is a trustee at the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary in Looe, Cornwall.

Biography: Kim Stevenson

Kim Stevenson is Professor of SocioLegal History with a particular interest in the history of crime and criminal justice. She is co-founder and co-director of SOLON: Interdisciplinary Studies in Law, Crime and History and co-editor of the Routledge SOLON book series: Explorations in the Histories of Crime and Criminal Justice. She is currently leading research on Everyday Offending in Plymouth and the South West 1850-1914.

About the ESRC Festival of Social Science 

(extract from the ESRC* website)

The ESRC Festival of Social Science offers a fascinating insight into some of the country's leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future.

You may be surprised at just how relevant the festival's events are to society today. Social science research makes a difference. Discover how it shapes public policy and contributes to making the economy more competitive, as well as giving people a better understanding of 21st century society. From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all everyday - at work, in school, when raising children, within our communities, and even at the national level.


Everyone - from schoolchildren to politicians - can take part in and hear about social science research in the festival's many engaging events.

This celebration of the social sciences takes place across the UK - via public debates, conferences, workshops, interactive seminars, film screenings, virtual exhibitions and much more. 2016 is the 14th year that ESRC has held the Festival of Social Science and each year the festival grows from strength to strength.

Visit the ESRC Festival of Social Science website for more information about the festival.

* ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council.


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