This panel presents comparative analysis of how settler states and local communities negotiate access to coastal spaces. Here anthropologists conducting fieldwork in coastal areas explore paradoxes arising when land rights interact with local communities where people do not see the sea as a barrier.
This panel presents a comparative analysis of how settler states and local communities negotiate access to coastal spaces. It has been generally acknowledged that international statutes on indigenous tenure are better at describing rights to firm land than to the shifting boundaries between land and sea or along the waters itself. Here a number of anthropologists conducting fieldwork in coastal areas explore the paradoxes that arise when statues on 'land rights' must interact with local communities where people do not see the sea as a barrier. Instead, they might view the sea as a source of food, a place where people manage complex relationships with animals who use both terrestrial and marine environments. In some regions water is an element that regularly transforms. The sea can facilitate movement in calm weather or become like land when it freezes. In many parts of the world the foreshore - by definition both sea and land - is the focus of economic engagement. In some contexts, firm land might harbour submerged creatures as with aquatic environments. The introduction of new technologies may change perceptions of natural boundaries as new transgressions are permitted. In these cases, new categories can be constituted, and legal and moral categories may be further challenged. Elements of movement, technology and identities are merged as people state their relationship to coastal spaces. The presenters suggest ways of conceptualising relationships to coastal spaces that co-exist with rights discourses and which extend anthropological analysis.