Mutiny, research about

A University of Washington press release heralds Steve Pfaff‘s research on mutinies:

Risking one’s neck for better grog: Mutinies reveal tipping points for collective unrest

…Another seemingly odd reason for rebellion occurred in 1793 aboard the Minerva as it returned from the East Indies. Captain Whitby insisted the men exercise by fiddle-dancing, be quiet when above deck and forbade them from swearing – a cherished practice of seamen of the era.

Pfaff said that the episode on the Minerva was a mild case of mutiny and was settled peacefully. The Minerva mutiny is also an example of a common thread Pfaff finds for motivations to rebel: violation of naval conventions.

“It was a rough equilibrium most of the time,” he said of life on board. Many times sailors expected officers to “look the other way in matters of petty deviance.” And seamen were willing to endure a lot if they believed that their officers were fair, competent and protective of their welfare.

Studying the size and age of the ships gives Pfaff a sense of the sailors’ abilities to plan and coordinate usurpation…

(Thanks to investigator Katherine Panetta for bringing this to our attention.)