Philip E. Steinberg

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:

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Until the beginning of the 21st century there were few studies of the ocean, or the world’s seas, in geography. Although cultural and political ecologists who studied coastal communities considered the watery spaces in which people worked, economic and transportation geographers considered the shipping routes that people (and commodities) crossed, and political and military geographers considered the ocean surfaces across which people fought, the ocean itself was generally conceived as a space beyond the boundaries of society, a space used by society, not of society. Physical geographers, meanwhile, while developing a robust literature in coastal geomorphology, tended to leave study of the deep sea to oceanographers. In recent years, physical geographers have made significant contributions to interdisciplinary oceanographic research, primarily through the application of remote sensing and GIS expertise and through climatological research on ocean-atmosphere interactions, but the explosion of ocean-related research in geography since the 1990s has primarily been in human and environmental geography. Much of the increase in human geographic studies of the ocean is due to influences from outside the discipline, including the turn in history to studying ocean basin–defined regions, the turn in cultural studies toward understanding the ocean as a space of cultural hybridity, and, more broadly, a growing environmental awareness of the ocean as a space that is exceptionally vulnerable to (and an indicator of) environmental transformation. Furthermore, as human geographers have turned their attention to such concepts as affect, mobility, nonterrestrial materialities, nonhuman agency, heterotopic spaces of resistance, and global spaces of exchange, the ocean has been embraced as an ideal space for thinking with, and thinking through the limits of, these emergent epistemologies.

Article.  8789 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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