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Edward Colston, World Oceans Day, & Black Lives Matter

Why was the statue of Edward Colston so controversial ...

Source: https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/uk-news/2020/06/07/why-was-the-statue-of-edward-colston-so-controversial/


My Twitter feed has been replete with a video showing the removal of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston from his plinth in Bristol (UK) during this past weekend’s Black Lives Matter protest. In several cases, enthusiastic retweeters noted that the statue was subsequently rolled down the street and “into the ocean.” Some celebrated the symbolic nature of Colston’s demise: With a thundering splash, Colston met an end similar to that of so many Africans who, whether living or dead, were rolled from Colston’s ships during the course of the Middle Passage.

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Herding Viruses

[Posted 21 March, updated 26 March]

I have COVID-19. Or maybe I don’t. I’m really not sure, since the UK isn’t testing anyone who doesn’t require hospitalisation.

I’m on Day 5 or 6, I think. It began with a tight upper back and a slightly sore throat. Then there was a day of very minor fever and very swollen throat. Since then, the sore throat’s been persistent, and a cough has developed, first as a dry, upper respiratory cough but increasingly as a more mid-level, mucousy cough. And I have moderate fatigue.

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Ocean in Excess CfP for 2020 Denver AAG Meeting


Reconfiguring and reconceptualising ocean geographies: oceanic excess, extensions and expansions

Convened by Kimberley Peters, University of Liverpool; Philip Steinberg, Durham University, UK.

What is the ocean and how do we study and understand it as geographers? This session is aimed at exploring this question by reconfiguring and reconceptualising ocean geographies through the themes of ‘excess’, ‘extension’ and ‘expansion’. Building on our 2019 paper, ‘The Ocean in Excess: Towards a More-than-Wet Ontology’, we invite papers, poems, creative engagements, short films, or other outputs that offer critical perspectives on the ocean as a more-than-wet, more-than-liquid space.

This session aims to evoke an ocean that is not only liquid, but an ocean that is solid (ice) and air (mist), an ocean that is held within us, in our body and skin; in the air we breathe, or food we consume and can stretch beyond us, and beyond the ‘blue’ of the map; an ocean that manifests itself beyond he liquid through plants, through sea-churned trash; an ocean that resonates through the immaterial, in the imagination, in text, film, books.

In short, this session seeks to explore how thinking of the ocean in ways that exceeds its liquid materiality can help us better understand the reach, influence, importance and threats of our oceans, to human and more-than-human life, to our planet.

Themes for contributions to this session could include but are not limited to:

  • Manifestations of ‘oceaness’ in non-liquid spaces – towns and cities; deserts; forests; ice environments; on plates of food; in living rooms, in trash heaps or gardens;
  • Examples of the ocean in shifting states (solid and gas, as well as liquid);
  • Reflections on oceans from non-Western perspectives that help imagine dominant ocean knowledges and narratives differently, with a start point which is not oriented to colonial histories;
  • Technological data doubles of the ocean via technological advances in mapping and observations;
  • Oceans manifest in more-than-human life; from the microbes to mammals;
  • The ocean as ‘sound’ and / or ‘music’, a space that emits soundings, but also as a space that evokes and inspires sound and musical interpretations;
  • The ocean in excess as smell – how oceanic odours come ashore, or may bcaptured and canned synthetically;
  • Oceanic extensions through taste. How do we taste oceans beyond bounded blue spaces on maps? How does a taste for the ocean create new ocean networks of trade of fish on shore? How does taste and consumption shape our health?;
  • How the ocean is more-than-liquid through storying and narratives, via poems and pose.

Please send abstracts of no more 250 words to Kimberley Peters (kimberley.peters@liverpool.ac.uk ) and Philip Steinberg (philip.steinberg@durham.ac.uk ) by Wednesday 9th October 2019. Details about attending the conference are available from the AAG website: https://www2.aag.org/aagannualmeeting/

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New and Improved (or Reduced) Website for 2019

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting to this blog much lately. Or worse yet, you probably haven’t noticed.

To some extent, that’s because of changes in the way that “we” (read: academics) use electronic media since I began the blog in 2012. Increasingly, we trade ideas and references via Twitter rather than writing out lengthy thought-pieces and essays (except, of course, for the writings in formal outlets that count as “research”). There are advantages and disadvantages to this change (see, for instance, my reflections on my most recent Twitterstorm regarding the #immodestwomen hashtag), but it is a change in how we communicate. Additionally, an increasing amount of my work is through institutes and programmes that have their own communication structures — IBRU, the ICE LAW Project, DurhamARCTIC, Political Geography. This means that there are fewer “official” announcements to put on this blog. If something first is announced by one of these institutions, it makes more sense just to retweet their postings.

I still will use this blog for occasional ramblings and musings, but probably with decreasing frequency. To that end, I’m keeping a blog on my website, but it’s no longer on the front page. At the same time, I’ve greatly revised the website to focus on my current (and anticipated future) projects. If you’re interested in my past work, there’s still a link to my c.v., which I’ll update regularly (really…I promise). But the homepage and research pages are now much more sharply focused on current projects.

Finally, a few announcements in the Arctic area for those of you who might have missed them via Twitter or other means:

  • The ICE LAW Project is hosting its final conference at Durham from 25-27 April 2019. For more information, see the Project’s website and the call for papers. Abstracts are due 15 January 2019.
  • DurhamARCTIC, the interdisciplinary PhD programme that I direct, is hosting its first ‘Summer School’ 25-28 April 2019. Timed to coincide with the ICE LAW Project, the Summer School has funding to support 14 Early Career Researchers from the around the world, with specialties in a variety of disciplines. Applications are due 31 January 2019.
  • DurhamARCTIC is also seeking new PhD students. We expect to fund six new students beginning in Autumn 2019 (and another five beginning in Autumn 2020). See the DurhamARCTIC website for more information about the programme. Applications for the Autumn 2019 cohort are due 15 January 2019.
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Tweets, Titles, & Immodest Women

Last night I spent much more time than planned on Twitter following up on a post that I’d tweeted. In the post (technically, two linked posts), I had used the #ImmodestWomen movement (wherein women with PhDs are encouraging each other to add the “Dr” title to their social media names to encourage broader recognition of women’s achievements in professional settings) to reflect on a recent incident where I had been forced to entitle myself, and specifically, to reflect on why I had rejected the title ‘Dr.’

In the past, I probably would have put this reflection on a blogpost. But, well, blogs are seeming so 2016. Plus, I was writing about a “social media” movement so Twitter seemed like the right arena. As an efficiency innovation, the decision to post on Twitter was a total failure: After spending half the night on Twitter I’m now still spending the morning writing a lengthy blogpost. But in retrospect, I am glad I started this on Twitter – posting on Twitter has led to much more interactivity and feedback, and that has impacted my thinking. (And a big thanks to all of you who did engage me…..I really mean that, including to those of you who were critical).

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Contesting the Arctic, now in paperback



After three years being available in hardback only,  Contesting the Arctic has now been released in paperback, at the cost of GBP 18.95, direct from from IB Tauris, or USD 35.00 from Amazon.com.  Pick up your copy, while supplies last!

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Political Geography and the UCU Strike

As editor-in-chief of Political Geography, I have had to make some difficult decisions concerning the relationship between the ongoing strike in UK academia, my position as a member of an international scholarly community, and my specific responsibilities with the journal.

Even in the best of circumstances, deciding what it means to be an academic on strike is difficult. As I considered in a blogpost during the 2013 strike, it is not at all clear where ‘work’ ends and the reflective everyday life of the academic begins. Should one not read, not write, not think during a strike….or should one just refrain from work that directly aids one’s employer? One of my colleagues has urged us all to do nothing even remotely scholarly when on strike. He suggested preparing the garden for spring planting. This sounded like a great idea…until we were hit with a blizzard!

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Marginal Sea-Ice Zone project announced within DurhamARCTIC

In an earlier post on this blog I announced the formation of DurhamARCTIC (the Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration), which is funding 15 new PhD students at Durham University. As an interdisciplinary programme, student recruitment cuts across a number of disciplinary cultures, from the natural science model, where academic staff design fully formed projects that they then ‘hire’ a student to carry out, to the model in the social sciences and humanities, where students are asked to submit their own proposals.

DurhamARCTIC expects to bring in some students who generate their own proposals and others who sign on to undertake research designed by their future supervisors, but it also likely will take on some through a middle route, where students develop research proposals that are designed to fit broad research trajectories that have been outlined by supervisory staff. To contribute to this latter category, Chris Stokes and I are recruiting students to propose research that falls under the topic, Measurement, Knowledge, and Regulation in the Marginal Sea-Ice Zone.”

Applications are due 2 February, so if you’re interested and have any questions, please contact me as soon as possible.

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Ocean Governance for Sustainability: Seabed Management Workshop

Rachael Squire reflects on the COST OCEANGOV Seabed Management Workshop for Early Career Researchers, organised by myself and Kimberley Peters and held early this month in Liverpool.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of acting as a ‘trainer’ in a workshop on Seabed Management organised by Kim Peters and Phil Steinberg. As part of the European Commission’s COST Action programme on Ocean Governance for Sustainability, and in conjunction with the University of Liverpool’s Institute for Sustainable Coasts and Oceans, the workshop brought together early career researchers and leading scholars in the fields of Ocean science and Governance.

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Over the course of three days, the focus of the workshop centred upon the practical questions of building bridges between academic research and policy at a time where research on the sea floor and questions around seabed governance are becoming increasingly significant (and doing so at an unprecedented pace). A range of insightful and thought-provoking keynote lectures provided some vital context to a number of pressing issues (including the development of legal frameworks for deep sea…

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15(!) Interdisciplinary Arctic PhD Opportunities at DurhamARCTIC

I am happy to announce Durham University’s success with a £1.05 million, five-year bid to the Leverhulme Trust to fund 15 PhD students in Interdisciplinary Understanding for a Changing Arctic. Although I took the lead with the grant proposal and will be directing the interdisciplinary training programme, I am indebted to input from colleagues from across the university.

To host the programme, and carry on its legacy after the grant ends in 2023, I am presently establishing a new Doctoral Training Centre at Durham: The Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC). While waiting for the bureaucratic wheels at Durham to (slowly) turn, I’ve established a provisional “unofficial” website for the programme at http://durhamarctic.wordpress.com.

Students in the programme enrol in standard, department-based doctoral programmes, but DurhamARCTIC then provides a number of “extras” including interdisciplinary supervision, colloquia, summer schools, etc., as well as dedicated funds for Arctic placements and research. The application deadline for the first cohort, to enter in Autumn 2018, is 2 February 2018. If you’re interested in applying (or if you know someone who might be interested) please see the programme website for more details regarding DurhamARCTIC’s focus, the extra elements it will provide for students, and the application process.


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