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Enchiladas, Danishes, and Donut Holes: A Different Kind of Arctic ‘Food Security’

[Denmark’s submission] doesn’t exercise self-restraint … a lot of people are surprised they went for the whole enchilada. – Michael Byers

The media reactions to Denmark’s Arctic seabed filing with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf have been predictable: Politicians and pundits have decried the potential for Denmark’s outrageous sea-grab to start a new era of aggression in the region (while these pundits are promoting just such a scramble by framing the Danish filing in these terms!). Meanwhile, scholars and lawyers have been noting that a) the rights that would accrue to Denmark in its ‘portion’ of the Arctic seabed if these limits were agreed upon would be quite limited; b) the filling was a statement of scientific findings which Denmark is aware will likely be reduced (presumably through a peaceful process) as countries with overlapping claims resolve their differences; and c) since the North Pole has no existential significance in the delimitation process, once Denmark had concluded that the Lomonosov Ridge was a geological extension of Greenland there was no reason to stop at the North Pole or, indeed, anywhere before the limit of Russia’s EEZ.

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‘Wet Matter’ Issue of Harvard Design Magazine Published

wet matter copyHarvard Design Magazine has just released its Fall/Winter 2014 issue on Wet Matter. I’ve only seen the parts that are available free on the website, but from these pieces, and from the table of contents, it looks like the issue is a major intervention that integrates a range of perspectives on the encountered materialities of wet spaces (both saltwater and freshwater). The articles and images are all packaged within the dazzingly beautiful production that is the Harvard Design Magazine. I’m eagerly waiting for my copy to arrive in the post.

Kimberley Peters and I have an article in it where we bounce our ‘Wet Ontologies‘ perspective against two oceanic absences: MH370 (the Malaysian airliner that disappeared in the Indian Ocean) and the lesser known case of the MV Lybov Orlova, a disabled Russian cruise ship that was lost at sea after its tow-line broke off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Our article sits alongside works by a stellar range of oceanic thinkers.

Nine of the 37 contributions to the special issue are available online for free on the issue’s website. For the others (including mine), you’ll need to pick up a copy at a quality news stand, book store, or art/architecture/design shop, or purchase a copy from the magazine’s distributor.

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On the Ice: Kerouac, Franklin, and the Northwest Passage

After a wonderful evening at the Of Water symposium at Westminster University, I had a few hours in London this morning before heading back north so I took the opportunity to check out the exhibit on Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage at the British Library, which was curated by a team with a number of connections to colleagues at Royal Holloway.

The first thing that I noticed about the exhibit was just how small it is. Given the excellent affiliated lecture programme (click here, here, and here), I had assumed that the Northwest Passage display was going to be in the big exhibit space and not the corridor reserved for secondary exhibits. The exhibit’s size and placement has a silver lining in that there’s no charge to enter. However, notwithstanding an audio-loop in one corner playing the sounds of shifting ice floes, the exhibit environment means that it lacks a certain immersive quality.

Over all, the central theme of ‘Lines in the Ice’ is a presentation on how the Arctic (and, in particular, the search for the Northwest Passage) has long been an object of the European romantic imagination.

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The legal, the material, and the geophysical: a few reflections on the Warwick postgraduate political geography conference


Royal Holloway’s Rachael Squire reviews the postgraduate conference held at Warwick University this past weekend: ‘The Legal, the Material, and the Geophysical’.

Originally posted on rhulgeopolitics:

Last week I spent two days at Warwick University for their annual postgraduate political geography conference. It was a brilliant experience which showcased the depth and breadth of research being undertaken in political geography at postgraduate level and beyond. The theme of the conference was ‘contested spaces’ and this was explored through five panel discussions, an excellent keynote from Alex Jeffrey, and a roundtable discussion addressing the overarching theme. Many thanks to Mara Duer and Antonio Ferraz de Oliveira for hosting and organising the event.

The panels, which included ‘contesting mobilities,’ ‘contested productions of territory’ (featuring Elizabeth Alexander and myself from Royal Holloway), and ‘contested cities’, saw postgraduates from all over the world present on a wide range of subjects. Cordelia Freeman, for example, gave a particularly engaging paper on issues at the Chile-Peru border. Coredlia explored how the Chilean Government had used deception and fakery to…

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Upcoming ‘Wet Ontologies’ articles & talks

Two articles from my ‘Wet Ontologies’ project, both co-authored with Kimberley Peters, are due for publication in the next month or two: ‘Wet Ontologies, Fluid Dynamics: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking’, which will be published in Environment and Planning D: Society & Space, and a companion paper, ‘Volume and Vision: Toward a Wet Ontology’, which will be published in Harvard Design Magazine. To roll out the papers, I’ll be giving a number of talks on the topic over the next months.

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Anticipating Storms Ahead — Arctic Circle Report

I’m at the 2nd annual Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik, a combination trade show, diplomatic showcasing event, networking extravaganza, and academic conference that follows up on the 2013 meeting, which I reported on last year.photo

If I learned one thing at yesterday’s plenary sessions it’s that the Arctic has nasty weather. I’m not just referring to the stormy winds encountered by attendees as they walked across the plaza to the entrance of Reykjavik’s Harpa convention centre. The region’s rough weather also was a dominant theme in several of the first day’s presentations.

Why the weather?

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Volume, Depth, and the (In)visibilities of Water

8dfgx72x-1412854892Thanks to a retweet from Klaus Dodds, I recently read this blogpost by marine ecologist Jon Copley on seabed mapping. Copley’s central message is that the statistics that we continually see reproduced in the media about 95% of the seabed being ‘unexplored’ and about us knowing more about the surface of Mars than we do about the ocean floor are oversimplifications. Different kinds of maps and ‘explorations’ reflect different knowledges and serve different purposes. Copley brilliantly moves from a technical discussion of mapping techniques (e.g. satellites vs. surface-based sonar vs. submersibles) and attendant issues of resolution and scale to suggest that our acceptance of depictions of the ocean as ‘unknown’ derives from our failure to ask more conceptual questions regarding the representative power of the map and the nature of knowledge.

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