American University of Beirut


How Communities Imagine the Sea and How the Sea Creates Communities

​Our oceans are in danger, deteriorating as a result of human activity, and yet they are precious, serving as sources of food and energy, spiritual inspiration, and means of transportation. In a roundtable discussion between New York City and Beirut, researchers sounded the alarm on the current state of the Mediterranean Sea and our oceans at large.

Marwa Elshakry is an associate professor in the Department of History at Columbia University. Her work specializes in the history of science, technology, and medicine in the modern Middle East. “The sea can be thought of as one of the last earthly commons,” she began, “and it is now under threat.” Our atmosphere and climate rely heavily on the oceans, with more than half the oxygen we breathe being produced by them alone. It is for this reason that Elshakry became involved with the development of FLOATS.​

Read the full text summary here. Watch a video of the entire discussion here.

Video Highlights of the Discussion


  • Yaser Abunnasr, Associate Professor at the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management at AUB

  • Nikolas Kosmatopoulos, Assistant Professor at the Departments of Political Studies, Public Administration, Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at AUB

  • Jina Talj, Founder at Diaries of the Ocean

  • Marwa Elshakry, Associate Professor at the Department of History at Columbia University

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