Fluid Hauntings: Techno-Legal Boundaries of Containment and Excess

Authors: Oviya Govindan*,
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Temporalities, Coastal landscape, Legal and spiritual geographies, Fluidity, Resistance
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the material and discursive ways in which techno-legal instruments of zoning and property law separate coastal land into private property and coastal waters into public resources. I show that modernist understandings of time and space inform these cartographic separations of of land and water, as well as nature and culture. Based on what I call “spatial oral histories”—fishers’ sensory narratives of landscape change told over the course of walking and boating tours—I show that fishers’ sacred and spiritual geographies of coastal territory exceeds techno-legal separations of land and water, as well as categories of private and public, and suggests a rethinking of cartographic understandings of property and resistance at the coast. Thinking with scholars and activists working on building resistance against large infrastructure projects at the coast, my paper seeks to de-center legal geographies and spectacular events such as the moment of enclosure coastal lands, and ask what possibilities might open up when enclosures are contextualized within fishers' spiritual geographies of coastal lands as spaces haunted by spirits and fluid movements.

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