EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P022)
Into the blue - cultures of the sea
Location SO-F307
Date and Start Time 17 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Dorle Dracklé (University of Bremen) email
  • Ana Isabel Afonso (CICS.NOVA/FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email

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Short abstract

Half of the world's population is living near the ocean. Modern cultures produced plastic islands, vanishing fisheries and waves of refugees - alongside whale-watching boats and surfing competitions. This panel will reassess transcultural networks of mobility and opens up new fields of concern.

Long abstract

With more than half of the world's population living in coastal areas, news of sea level rise are already showing consequences for the futures of coastal dwellers. The search for new energies opens the hunt for the conquest of the sea as property for exploitation by corporations and nation states. The oceans of the world as immense commons belonging to humankind have turned into contested areas for deep sea mining and for tremendous fields of plastic waste, threatening animals and humans alike. Fisheries are under threat, rules and regulations are set up by governments trying to save the fish for future generations.

But on the other side, the sea has never been so attractive for inventing new - blue - economies as today, and alternative uses develop, creating challenging activities. New forms of knowledge and new scientific fields emerge, opening up the oceans for new concepts of use, like aquaculture and for the hope to feed the world with protein from the seas, or to save our energy futures with renewable energies, promising new sustainable life worlds.

At the same time, processes of transformation and migration are marking new mobilities. Refugee boats crossing the seas have become a common imaginary of modern worlds, marking boundaries, practices of exchange, movements and highly contested coastal landscapes for those who stay, those who move and those who settle down. The panel aims at opening up new fields of concern for anthropological research inviting papers with experimental ideas and new ways of reflection.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Fluid borders, flexible politics: Where does the land end and the sea begin?

Author: Werner Krauß (University of Bremen) email
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Short abstract

The border between the sea and the land is often marked by dams and dikes; in many cases, these constructions are as much the problem as they are the solution. Once the separation of sea and land is opened up for discussion, options for more flexible climate politics come into view.

Long abstract

Sea level rise is one of the icons of global climate politics in the Anthropocene; apocalyptic scenarios tell that coastal dwellers will turn into climate refugees unless we adapt to climate change. But what does adaptation mean? The border between the sea and the land is often marked by dams and dikes; in many cases, these constructions are as much the problem as they are the solution. Once the separation of sea and land is opened up for discussion, coastal climate politics become more flexible.

In my presentation, I will discuss this assumption at the example from the German North Sea coast in a historical perspective. The Jade Bay once was an area where the border between the sea and the land was fluid and under permanent negotiation. Dikes protected reclaimed land and territories, while storm flooding once and again caused huge devastation; only in the late 19th century, the emergence of the German nation state manifested the successful "conquest of nature" (Blackbourn), materialized in the containment of the Jade Bay through a closed ring of dikes. Ever since, the border between the land and the sea seems to be fixed and "natural". Ethnographic research in a historical perspective tells a different and more complex story of the coast. It challenges a dualistic and deterministic world view and opens up perspectives for alternative climate politics.

This sea is our sea - controversies around Cape Wind

Author: Ana Isabel Afonso (CICS.NOVA/FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email
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Short abstract

Climate change threats coastal communities and horizons are expanding faraway into less vulnerable places. Renewable energies go into the blue to medicate global warming and produce sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. However, this process is full of controversies, conflicts and conundrums.

Long abstract

Based on the controversies that surrounded the ever to be Cape Wind, this exploratory paper questions some key issues that emerge from discursive clashes, which produce friction zones sorted out during fieldwork carried out in Cape Cod, since 2013.

At that time, the topic of research focused the social impact of wind power at local level, and the selected case study - the two town owned turbines sat in the Waste Water Plant Facility of Falmouth, MA - echoed the antagonist perspectives that accentuated less visible incongruities among environmental discourses. If we look at wind power as a green energy source, causing less damage to the environment when compared with fossil fuel and nuclear power, one might think that environmentalists, as well as local citizens would enthusiastically accept its implementation, especially in those remote places, where electricity is expensive and hard to transport.

Nevertheless, opposition and controversies, and the emergence of strong grassroots opponents to wind power projects, both inland or offshore contradict this expectation.

During the process, a myriad of arguments and motivations was sorted out, and the Cape Wind project died on the beach of Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard, far from the view of the Kennedy family or the Koch brothers.

In this context, we question what are the processes that underline those frictions and what kind of alliances and negotiations are taking place at local level, as a response to the global and (more intangible) processes of climate change?

Out of the blue sea into the port city - a culture of the sea? An ethno-historical exploration of the concept of coastal societies using the example of the port city of Bremen in the 19th century.

Author: Jan Oberg (University of Bremen) email
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Short abstract

The sea, by historians and anthropologists is often regarded as a transfer medium for culture. This paper deals with the hypothetical linkage between the sea, maritime economy and local culture and examines the concept of coastal societies by using the example of Bremen in the 19th century.

Long abstract

Historians and anthropologists have been exploring coastal regions and port cities as centers of crosscultural exchange and places of the transit of people, goods and ideas for quite some time. In many a study the sea is considered as a transfer medium for culture.

My contribution deals with this hypothetical linkage between sea, seatrade, shipping and local culture using the example of Bremen in the first half of the 19th century, when the North German trading city experienced an unprecedented boom in the maritime economy. I retrace the cultural effects of this development and examine the thesis of the particular character of coastal societies by using an ethnographic, actor-oriented approach. The ethno-historic view of Bremen's everyday life suggests that "maritime culture" in Bremen was complex, often contradictory, speckled with certain cultural representations and varied significantly from ideas of cultural homogeneity and cultural interconnectedness, which frequently are prevalent in the concept of coastal societies. In Bremen, the quality of dealing and exchanging with foreign people and culture was characterized by forms of domination, questions of economic profitability and social and cultural practices of distinction and exclusion. Thus the idea of coastal societies, as expressed for example in the concept of the North Sea as a cultural unity with a certain "maritime culture", can also be interpreted as a mental map and a product of national and global/local historiographies.

Belize Blues

Author: Kenneth Little (York University) email
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Short abstract

Using tourist, expat, and Creole examples this paper tracks the emergent political imaginaries and affects of blue compositions that become thinkable and felt through a sustained engagement with the seductive and recalcitrant materiality of the colour blue in a coastal tourist village in Belize?

Long abstract

You can't mistake this blue. The azure blue of the Caribbean Sea has been the seductive, tropical growth colour of Belize for the past twenty years. It is the impact colour of Caribbean tourism with a structure of feeling that incites body attunements and emergent worlds. At the same time, it is a breezy turquoise blue conjuring paradise. For locals it is the ambivalent, fraught and dissipating colour of seaside precarity mixed with a hustle and laughter that fills Belize coast with the seductions of possible fortune and futurity, back-talking privation and local tradition for something that recalibrates the social, the citizen and the nation. For expats this blue acts is an incitement for "crying the blues" as the seductions of tropical blues begins to blend into things in the wrong way to conjure a dream gone bad, a paradise optimism turned mean and nasty that rubs the senses raw. This paper tracks how three scenes of blue throw themselves together as potentializing forces creating moments when assemblages of incommensurate things, entanglements, and publics compose themselves as affective atmospheres that begins to feel like something. This paper tracks the rhythms and attachments to scenes and objects of desire that sustain life in a coastal village gone crazy for tourism, and about how blue takes material and imaginative form in the way it pulls some assortment of forces, events, and sensibilities into alignment to become nervously generative of the textures and rhythms of living in such a place.

Pescaturismo: tourist fishing or fishing tourist?

Author: Francesco Bravin (Cultural Association Antropolis) email
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Short abstract

Since 1997, a Sea Reserve protects the waters of the Cinque Terre. The fishing activity in Monterosso is dying, partly because of mass tourism, partly because the fish is disappearing. The local fishermen blame the Sea Reserve, but some of them found a new source of income: the "pescaturismo".

Long abstract

The Cinque Terre are one of the most important touristic sites in Italy, renowned worldwide since its territory was declared a world heritage by UNESCO in 1999. Mass tourism had a heavy impact on the lives of the inhabitants, on one side opening new job opportunities, but on the other side favouring the disappearing of traditional activities such as fishing and wine-making. A Sea Reserve and a National Park aim to protect this fragile environment. Fishing was particularly important in Monterosso, whose men were the only fishermen in Cinque Terre, and whose women went to sell the fish in all the towns of the eastern Ligurian riviera. The salted anchovies of Monterosso were protected by Slow Food as an endangered local product. But now the traditional fishing activity is disappearing, just as the fish. Even if the Sea Reserve is bringing the fish back in the local waters, the last fishermen blame it for the crisis of their activity. Some of them, though, found a new source of income: "pescaturismo". Literally "fishing-tourism", it means taking some tourist on a fishing boat for a fee and showing them how the traditional fishing (used to) work: a touristic performance that puts on stage the local identity and also conveys the critique and resistance against environmental top-down policies.

Surfers and Fishermen : Heritage, Work and Sport in Ericeira

Author: Vera Azevedo (CRIA. NOVA / FCSH - Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email
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Short abstract

This presentation considers the impact of sea patrimonialization in Ericeira and explores how official discourses and policies about Portuguese maritime heritage are related to the (re)definition of surfing and fishing practices in the village.

Long abstract

In the context of contemporary patrimonialization processes in various sectors of Portuguese society, this presentation reflects the impact of sea patrimonialization in Ericeira village and accounts for the reconfigurations generated by this process in creating a habitus of sports, work and leisure.

Based on the official governmental discourses and policies about Portuguese maritime heritage - the National Strategy for the Sea 2013/2020 - and because the village was elected World Surfing Reserve in 2011, this paper analyzes the relationship between this sport and the local economy and policies, observes the changes in the tourism sector, the growth of local surf industry and its impact on the fishing community.

Since the multiplicity of coastal and beach uses contextualizes the leisure and work dynamics in Ericeira, we relate the economy of goods and services to the economy of experience and sharing, observe the existing continuities and ruptures and investigate how surfers, fishermen and local authorities define or redefine sports, work and leisure practices and strategies.

Because surfing and fishing practices are constituted in the 'lived experience', we also focus on the performative action of the surfer and fisherman in the daily life of the World Surfing Reserve of Ericeira, in order to ascertain which maritime narratives emerge from this new reality.

Swimming with Monsters: Scuba Diving Tourism in Micronesia

Author: Hans Tunestad (Stockholm University) email
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Short abstract

The study investigates scuba diving tourism, here seen as a form of so called serious leisure. The focus is not on the occasional diver, but on those that pursue this interest on a long term basis, and also on the frameworks that enable, encourage or restrict these involvements.

Long abstract

This presentation describes a project starting in the autumn of 2018 that will investigate scuba diving tourism through ethnographic methods - including the still experimental method of underwater ethnography. Millions of people around the world today are certified divers, and the numbers increase with hundreds of thousands every year. Yet scuba diving is not only a potentially dangerous, even lethal, activity, but also something rather expensive, transcendent, and technically advanced: with the diving equipment, making it possible to breath underwater, a diver is temporarily transformed into a cyborg, or a 'monster', stretching the limits of what it means to be human. What makes people engage in this kind of activity? As a form of so called serious leisure sport diving today constitutes an activity that on a structural level share certain traits with work - with 'careers', and the same ideals as contemporary organizational management (self-regulation, flexible adaption to the environment, self-realization, mobility). Following the idea of Boltanski and Chiapello (2007) that contemporary flexible capitalism tends to give life a 'projective' character, for the contemporary 'leisure classes' both work and leisure here arguably appear as two similar and equally important parts of the overarching individual life project. The investigation is strategically located to Palau, a place where dive tourism makes up a substantial part of the national economy, and where divers from (at least) four continents meet.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.