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Sea Flows: Mobility, Boundaries, and Scale in Marine Environmental History

Sat, April 1, 10:30am to 12:00pm, The Drake Hotel, Georgian

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Abstract

In this roundtable, participants will discuss how historians can engage marine nature to expand the understanding of mobility, boundaries, and geographic scale in historical processes. Discussants will draw upon recent research regarding marine spaces, including salmon fisheries in the North Pacific, shark management in the Indian and Pacific, whale cultures in the Tasman Sea, and maritime border enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico divide. The scale of this work has ranged from the local and transboundary to the transnational and transoceanic. Collectively they reveal how different scales have interpenetrated as a consequence of flows of organisms, people, and ideas. The panel plan is, first, to confer ahead of the meeting to define a set of questions. Second, we will briefly describe the ways that the field illustrates how technological, cultural, and material exchanges have historically intersected within marine spaces, how efforts to regulate the mobility of humans and non-human organisms speak to areas beyond the seas, and how the porosity of marine spaces complicate historical narration. Third, the panel will finish their portion of the presentation within an hour so we can open up the conversation to the audience for dialogue. A key argument of this panel is that, in a discipline where socially constructed borders seem increasingly important yet problematic for understanding human relations to nature, marine environmental history is a particularly effective lens for historical analysis across scales. Thus marine environmental history connects to and complicates broader concerns within the field of environmental history--marine, terrestrial, or otherwise.

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