Sea theory, atmospheres, and liminality of lives

Helen Abbott (Australian National University)
Susan Reid (University of Sydney)
Damien Bright (University of Chicago)
Chancellery Building, A1-129
Start time:
6 December, 2018 at 11:15
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will explore the development of the "ocean turn" and the rise of "critical ocean studies" and "sea theory" in the study of the liminality of lives and atmospheres regulating life and death of maritime spaces.

Long abstract:

The Anthropocene is the scientific label given by earth scientists to the current epoch of unprecedented anthropogenic planetary change. The Anthropocene is also a political label designed to call attention to this change and evolving notions of agency and responsibility in contemporary life. The sea is history (Derek Walcott). This panel would like to explore the development of "critical ocean studies" and "sea theory" in the study of liminal lives focused on maritime spaces. In cultural theory, topology has been used to articulate changes in structures and spaces of power. It offers a model for mapping the dynamics of time as well as space, allowing the rigorous description of events, situations, changing cultural formations and social spatializations. Topologies also denote the flux of collective memory in its multiple and mutable incarnations across time where paradoxes of polytemporality, as folded assemblage of linearly distant and sometimes contradictory moments, help make sense of a period of social change. A topology of power allows us to interrogate the practices of ruination. We propose to take Peter Sloterdijk's spherological theory as a starting point, and more particularly his notion of "foam" as an atmopshere regulating life and death. The sea is an archive of migrations, circulations, relations more-than-human... By examining multispecies collaborations, practices and memories of human beings in, beside, with, liquid spaces, we suggest a socio-topological approach to these issues.