After discussing our ideas at the Warwick political geography conference, Cordelia Freeman and I are organising a session for the forthcoming RGS-IBG conference entitled ‘Under the Sea: geographies of the deep’. We are both really excited about the topic and hope that it might prompt further discussion in what has already become a lively field in geography and geopolitics. Please see the CfP below:
Recent geographical scholarship has fervently challenged the flat horizontalism that has long shaped understandings of space and the operation of power over territory (see Elden, 2013). However, in spite of moves to take seriously a world of verticality and volume (see also Adey, 2012), the sea (surface, water column and sea bottom) has been largely omitted in discussions that have moved geographies beyond aerial or surface dimensions. The inaccessibility of the sea, which often rationalises its exclusion from academic debate (Steinberg 1999), poses particular problems when turning our attention to underwater spaces. It is widely acknowledged that we know less of the deep seas than we do of outer space.
The vitalities, mobilities, and materialities of the seas are increasingly being explored in geographical scholarship to both gain an understanding of this traditionally neglected space and to produce ‘wet ontologies’ that have wide application on terra firma (Steinberg and Peters, forthcoming). This session sits within this maritime turn and seeks to advance critical geographic scholarship on the sea by engaging with cultural-political questions of human interactions with, and in, the complex environment of undersea space. How is the sea’s ever changing materiality, from liquid, to solid, to vapour, better understood through frames of height and depth, and how does this voluminous matter come to bear on how humans interact with it? How has the sea been inhabited and made known through ‘depth’? How is the legal zoning of the seas – from territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, through to the high seas and the outer continental shelves and deep seabed – impacted by questions of depth?
These questions could be explored via activities such as surveying, fishing and whaling, and deep sea mining where undersea space, resources, and life are brought to the surface, through oceanographic or militaristic technologies, or perhaps through embodied acts of diving. We welcome papers that speak to these themes and others that will advance this field by exploring how the sea’s geophysics and materiality are experienced and negotiated.
This session is being organised by Cordelia Freeman (Nottingham University – firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rachael Squire (Royal Holloway – email@example.com) Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words to both organisers by 6 February 2015.
The session is sponsored by the Political Geography Research Group