SOAN 239B - Sea and Society

 

​​Prof. Nikolas Kosmatopoulos

Spring 2018 

Although the blue continent sheaths our Earth, for the sciences that study culture and society it has been a scholarly no-man’s-land; a vast and void framing of terrestrial maps in the classroom. While the sea is essential to the emergence of world trade, colonialism, slavery, modernity, capitalism, and science, it is routinely compartmentalized under subtopics, such as trade, tourism, migration, and security. The maritime world seems to fall between our epistemological cracks.
Yet current events marked a change of sea in scholarly convention and popular imagination. Rediscovered under “globalization” initially and “global warming” recently, world oceans have started to flood public views. Scholarship followed suit. Historians view the sea mostly as a highway for intercontinental exchange and cultural diffusion. Researchers of geo-politics approach it as a space of maritime conflicts between states and corporations. Literary, cultural and feminist studies explore the maritime imagination in fiction, film, and emancipatory politics. Anthropologists discover the true otherness of our land-locked sovereignties and the decentering of human dominance over other species. Activists in Beirut, Hamburg, Lesvos, Sicily, and Gaza take to the sea to protest and contest the securitization of the flow of people on the run, the privatization of the seaside, and an environmentally suicidal maritime extractionism.

The course promotes a sea-centered, theory-based and practice-oriented anthropological project. A slowly but surely emergent maritime social science makes refreshing waves of research and action. In the course, we will navigate the seas in their movement from the margins to the center of academic inquiry and public imagination. In cooperation with AUB Neighborhood Initiative, students will explore community-centered projects related to the coastal development of Beirut, the Dalieh port, the fishermen of Ain Mreisseh and the sea beyond AUB. 

The course is part of the Floating Laboratory of Action & Theory At Sea (FL OATS) initiative which is an experimental platform dedicated to teaching, research, public engagements and awareness about the social sciences of the sea.  

More on the course and student's work in the link below: