Oct 23, ICGC Planetary Sea, Ocean Archive: Querying the Geography of History

International Center for the Study of Global Change

ICGC Brown Bag Series

Friday October 23rd, 2015


537 Heller Hall

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If we live through it, She'll carry us back." - Wangechi Mutu (2014) 

Planetary Sea, Ocean Archive: Querying the Geography of History

Presented by: Jessica Lehman, Department of Geography, Environment and Society

Abstract: How can we contend with global-scale environmental crises caused by the human species, while also attending to geographical specificity and different ways of knowing and experiencing life on Earth? This is a central problematic for contemporary environmental politics and the recent turn to the planetary scale. In this paper, I draw on my research into international oceanographic projects to suggest the concept of the ocean archive as an alternate mode of planetary thought. Postcolonial writers imagine the ocean as a collector of the histories, bodies, and ways of life that hegemonic historical narratives would rather forget. Scientists also understand the ocean as a kind of record(er), following materials or liquid formations through time to understand ocean circulation and to trace the harmful impacts of substances such as radioactive isotopes and plastics. In this paper I build on these oddly resonant notions to query the possibilities of the ocean archive for guiding ethical and political planetary relations in the contemporary era.

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