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Mediated Seas, Elemental Oceans

Sat, September 7, 9:45 to 11:15am, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Floor: Four, Bayside B

Abstract

As social, technological, and political innovations and interruptions are increasingly imagined as taking place offshore, we are witnessing the advent of a new global awareness—a movement built upon the ocean’s undeniable importance to human futures, whether in its capacity to act as a lifeline or to bring about destruction. STS scholars, anthropologists, media theorists, ecocritics, and other humanists are increasingly participating in this “oceanic turn,” connecting scientific and technological advancements in ocean research and exploration to ecologies of power and livelihood. This panel interrogates oceans of and as media, focusing on the material and semiotic remakings of powerful seascapes. We draw inspiration from scholars such as Stacy Alaimo, Melody Jue, Stefan Helmreich, and others who have emphasized the specificity of thinking through water as a way of conceptualizing human entanglements with environments and technologies. Attending to material forms—of water, plastic, sand; as waves, islands, coastlines—we bring blue humanities work together with an elemental media perspective articulated by scholars such as John Durham Peters and Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, to zero in on the agential role of elements like water in constructing human subjectivities and global relations. From the sea surface to the deep sea, plastic pollution to coastal landmaking, we consider, collectively, how media and mediation render oceanic frontiers of knowledge, power, and settlement.

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