Ocean Frontiers

Authors: Philip Steinberg*, Durham University
Topics: Marine and Coastal Resources
Keywords: Enclosure, Frontier, Ocean
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Madison B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores how the concept of the frontier calls attention to the ocean as a space of both opening and closure. Whilst the new opportunities suggested by a frontier imply an opening, the realization of these opportunities typically requires a degree of (en)closure. At the same time, however, because spaces like the ocean cannot easily be enclosed by existing political institutions, the frontier opens new spaces for regulatory and, ultimately, ethical innovations. The ocean has long epitomized the frontier: as a space offering opening and closure, horizontally, vertically, and conceptually. Today, as the frontier discourse is increasingly applied to new ocean resources and spaces, we should not lose sight of the productive possibilities that may emerge from its dialectic of opening and enclosure. In short, while there is much to be concerned about in the opening of the ocean as a ‘frontier’, this opening also presents political opportunities.

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