Off Littorality/The Shoals

Authors: Tiffany King*, Georgia State University
Topics: Geographic Thought, Cultural Ecology, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Black Studies, geography,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I approach the nautical and geological formation of the shoal as a key term for Black Studies. Throughout this meditation, I think with Christina Sharpe’s broken or disturbed surface of the water—the wake—as a way of thinking about and elaborating upon the shoal as a conceptual and nautical disturbance. As a geography, kinetics, elusive encounter, change in velocity and depth, the shoal reorganizes thought, prose and poetics in ways that call for a consideration of relations, aesthetics and associations that are “off the shores” of normative orders of knowledge. The shoal is place where the sea and non-sea matter (rock, sand bed, coral) meet. As both sea and non-sea, or neither sea nor not-sea, it is an ecotonal space where different kinds of ecological systems meet. While the shore is also recognized as an ecotonal space, the shoal is a less discussed space of encounter and friction that can often catch one by surprise as it resides off shore. As a space of unexpected rupture (and becoming), I situate the shoal as geography of Black Studies that augments some of the enduring metaphors of the field like water/liquidity, shore, and tide by pulling them away from the littoral to a place they might take on a different form.

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