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Gaston Gordillo on the ‘Oceanic Void’

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Anthropologist Gaston Gordillo has posted an intriguing essay on his Space and Politics blog about how we might think with an ‘Oceanic Void’. I don’t fully agree with his deployment of the ‘Void’ concept (see my comments, as well as those of Steve Mentz, and hopefully others who will join the discussion), but it’s a provocative discussion starter.

Although the academic in me intuitively focuses on the 5 percent that I don’t like, 95 percent of the essay is really, really good. I look forward to publication of the complete chapter.

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The Malaysian Airlines tragedy and South China Sea geopolitics


imagesSome initial thoughts on how the ongoing South China Sea dispute is and isn’t being considered in media coverage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance…

Originally posted on rhulgeopolitics:

While the apparent crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is first and foremost a human tragedy, we should not lose sight of how search and rescue efforts are being played out within the context of a geopolitical drama.

Some news reports have noted that the South China Sea, where search and rescue efforts have been concentrated, is a zone of competing territorial claims and ongoing diplomatic tensions. However, usually these tensions are reported as being transcended by the international effort to find the wreck and (hopefully) any survivors.

One of the more extensive discussions of the geopolitical context occurred in The Guardian:

Fears over the fate of missing passengers have Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Philippines maritime authorities working together to scour the area of the South China Sea where the plane went missing. That’s notable, given that decades-long tension over maritime borders in the area are increasingly coming to…

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The Politics of New Internet Domain Names

In a new post on TheConversation.com, I revisit an old research topic of mine: the political signification of internet domain names with reference to changing modalities of state territory:


Domain name expansion signals political shift of internet

By Philip Steinberg, Durham University

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has begun rolling out what could eventually become more than 1,000 new generic top-level domain names – the part of an internet address that comes after the “dot”. It’s a move that will change how the internet as we know it looks and feels and has significant political implications to boot.

Read the full article at The Conversation.

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New works published this week

Its been a good week for getting old projects out of the publishing houses and into the public domain.uodl20.v045.i01.cover


Sekula, Space, and Protest: Reflections on the Ship of Empty Boxes

Empty cargo shipI’m just back from a weekend in London that was a surprisingly coherent exploration into the intersections of art, politics, protest, mobility, and the ocean.

The initial component – and the thing that brought me to London in the first place – was a symposium co-sponsored by Birkbeck College’s Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck’s Institute for the Moving Image, and Delta Arts. The conference – The Ship of Empty Boxes: Responses to Containerised Global Trade – was, in large part, an extended reflection on Allan Sekula’s and Noël Burch’s The Forgotten Space. A central question asked throughout the conference was whether some of the elusive but fundamental concepts and spaces that bind the maritime world economy are amenable to representation. And if so, how can they be depicted in a way that illustrates both global connections and embodied experiences?

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Northwest Passage video from Arctic Circle conference posted

The video of my plenary lecture at the October 2013 Arctic Circle conference has now been posted. In this talk, I argue for the territorial sea option as a ‘middle route’ through the Northwest Passage.

Notwithstanding Ambassador Hedberg’s introduction, I am proposing that the Northwest Passage be classified as Canada‘s territorial sea, not the US’. The lecture was presented at the inaugural meeting of the Arctic Circle group, a meeting that I’ve written about previously.

An expanded version of the talk will be published in Ocean Development & International Law in February 2014.

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IBRU Research Associate position available

ibru_title_logoIBRU, the borders research, consulting, and training entity at Durham University, has announced a two-year Research Associate position.

The Research Associate will be expected to:

IBRU is particularly interested in candidates who would complement existing staff interests in maritime regions and other domains that incorporate extraterritorial spaces and activities, as well as in forging links between political geographic and international law perspectives.

For more information and application instructions, see the full announcement on the Durham University Human Resources website. The application deadline is 10 February 2014.


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