The BBC has posted the 3 December 2013 edition of Radio 3′s ‘Night Waves’ programme, where I joined international law professor Stephen Haines to discuss the cultural significance of the ocean and the power of Grotian sea governance. The segment with Stephen and myself runs from 10:30 to 27:20, sandwiched (somewhat oddly) between reviews of Henry V and Black Nativity. The coolest part was being mentioned in the same sentence with Baldrick and J.M.W. Turner…and being called an Old Sea Dog.
Tonight (Friday 22 November) will be the first ever (so far as I know) Northeast England Political Geography Theatre Night, where students and staff from Durham and Newcastle (and a special guest from Finland) will gather for a production of Landscape with Weapon at the People’s Theatre in Newcastle, followed by spirited discussion (and discussion over spirits) at my home (conveniently located right behind the theatre). We’ve got a nice-sized crowd already, but tickets to the show are still available for purchase at the theatre (7:30pm).
I’m chuffed (to use a Britishism) to find myself amidst esteemed colleagues in the latest open-access virtual special issue of Society & Space, on Geo-Political Economy. The theme, as elaborated in the introduction by Deb Cowen and Stuart Elden, brings together a (very) wide variety of articles that, while elaborating on political-economy foundations, engage the geographical in a way that is more nuanced than the universalism implied by ‘global’ or the state-centrism implied by ‘international’. That allows for a broad swathe of perspectives, and as Cowen and Elden note, some very different (and, one might on reflection say somewhat dated) registers. However, as they also note, that makes for particularly interesting reading. If a reader, on revisiting old debates, rejects most of the old material but rescues a nugget for reworking from a new perspective, then I would say that a reissue has served its purpose.
For a couple of years now, Society & Space has been publishing these virtual special issues, theme-based collections drawn from the archives and placed in an open-access repository for three months. They’re an innovative way of sparking new debate about old topics, and while they certainly don’t solve (or even really address) any of the underlying questions about open access and publishing, they do serve that crucial function that roots all journals: Getting people talking about new (and old) ideas.
What does an academic do when (s)he is on strike? That’s not so simple a question. After years of not having to deal with it because I was in a state where strikes by public employees (which I was) were prohibited, I now am confronted with my first strike as a member of the University and College Union.
Of course there are questions about the efficacy of strikes, fairness to students, whether this is the best way to reach intended audiences, etc. but the strike is also forcing me (and many others) to think about the disconnect between, on the one hand, how we are paid (by time) and what we actually do (engaging in a mix of self-directed and mandated projects which, while sometimes timetabled, are not primarily defined by ‘the clock’). As I’ve previously quipped, the great thing about being an academic is that you get to choose which 80 hours of the week to work. The reduction of labour to time, which is so crucial for the abstraction and commodification of labour in capitalism in general, becomes a bit more complex when the labourer in question can’t turn her or his contribution ‘off’. Continue Reading »
I’m just back from Iceland, having attended the first Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik and the affiliated Sixth Annual Polar Law Symposium in Akureyri. As conference planning proceeded, the latter sessions of the Polar Law Symposium got moved to Reykjavik and folded into the larger Arctic Circle meeting. And as things proceeded further, one of the joint sessions (to be precise, the one on the Law of the Sea, in which I was presenting) got rebranded as a plenary.
The second is from an Aquatopia gallery tour that I led the following day.
The exhibit has now closed in Nottingham but will be running again from October 2013 through January 2014 at the Tate St Ives in Cornwall.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my left brain-right brain tacking, simultaneously working on a law journal publication and one on film theory. That pales, however, before the week ahead of me. This Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be at the Nottingham Contemporary’s Aquatopia exhibit. On Tuesday I’ll be giving a presentation associated with a viewing of The Forgotten Space, and then on Wednesday I’ll be leading a gallery walk-through there. Then this weekend I’m off to Singapore to participate in an International Boundaries Research Unit workshop on maritime boundary delimitation. Things could get really weird if I were to mix up PowerPoints and give the art presentation to the foreign ministry employees and international lawyers, or, for that matter, if I were to give the law presentation to the art crowd.
In between the two, I have a busy week of other activities that should give me a bit of balance, including participating in a workshop at the University of London’s Birkbeck College on International Relations, Capitalism, and the Sea and, once I get to Singapore, leading a seminar with the National University of Singapore’s Politics, Economies, and Space research cluster.
Should be an interesting couple of weeks.