Blue Legalities

The Life and Laws of the Sea

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 34 illustrations Published: January 2020

Cultural Studies > Ocean Studies, Geography, Law > Legal Theory

The ocean and its inhabitants sketch and stretch our understandings of law in unexpected ways. Inspired by the blue turn in the social sciences and humanities, Blue Legalities explores how regulatory frameworks and governmental infrastructures are made, reworked, and contested in the oceans. Its interdisciplinary contributors analyze topics that range from militarization and Maori cosmologies to island building in the South China Sea and underwater robotics. Throughout, Blue Legalities illuminates the vast and unusual challenges associated with regulating the turbulent materialities and lives of the sea. Offering much more than an analysis of legal frameworks, the chapters in this volume show how the more-than-human ocean is central to the construction of terrestrial institutions and modes of governance. By thinking with the more-than-human ocean, Blue Legalities questions what we think we know—and what we don’t know—about oceans, our earthly planet, and ourselves.  

Contributors. Stacy Alaimo, Amy Braun, Irus Braverman, Holly Jean Buck, Jennifer L. Gaynor, Stefan Helmreich, Elizabeth R. Johnson, Stephanie Jones, Zsofia Korosy, Berit Kristoffersen, Jessica Lehman, Astrida Neimanis, Susan Reid, Alison Rieser, Katherine G. Sammler, Astrid Schrader, Kristen L. Shake, Phil Steinberg


“Not a minute too early, the ‘blue turn’ finally takes pride of place in legal thinking. Blue Legalities balances the legal and the liquid in all their emanations. The contributions span from the oceanic depths of our planet to the glimmering surface of our limited comprehension, combining in an undeniably poetic whole, law, politics, science, anthropology, history, and philosophy amongst other epistemes. The feat of this book is diving headlong in the fathomless challenge of treating the material and the textual as one ontological ripple.” — Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, author of Spatial Justice: Body, Lawscape, Atmosphere

“Elisabeth Mann Borgese, one of the architects of the first Law of the Sea conference, argued that any approach to the ocean must be inherently interdisciplinary. Irus Braverman and Elizabeth R. Johnson have fulfilled this claim with a wonderful interdisciplinary collection. Plumbing the depths of human and more-than-human life and law at sea, this volume is a welcome and timely contribution to the field of critical ocean studies.” — Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey, author of Allegories of the Anthropocene

“The contributions vary in their exploration of the pluralistic nature of ocean legal orders, and in their exploration of the interactions between such orders. But there is much in this volume to engage the legal pluralism scholar, with case studies that are timely and provocative.” — Melanie G. Wiber, Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Irus Braverman is Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, and author of Coral Whisperers: Scientists on the Brink.

Elizabeth R. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Human Geography at Durham University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Blue Legalities: Governing More-Than-Human Oceans / Elizabeth R. Johnson and Irus Braverman  1
1. Solwara 1 and the Sessile Ones / Susan Reid  25
2. Held in Suspense: Mustard Gas Legalities in the Gotland Deep / Astrida Neimanis  45
3. Kauri and the Whale: Oceanic Matter and Meaning in New Zealand / Katherine G. Sammler  63
4. Edges and Flows: Exploring Legal Materialities and Biophysical Politics of Sea Ice / Philip E. Steinberg, Berit Kristoffersen, and Kristen L. Shake  85
5. Liquid Territory, Shifting Sands: Property, Sovereignty, and Space in Southeast Asia's Tristate Maritime Boundary Zone / Jennifer L. Gaynor  107
6. Wave Law / Stefan Helmreich  129
7. Robotic Life in the Deep Sea / Irus Braverman  147
8. The Technopolitics of Ocean Sensing / Jessica Lehman  165
9. The Hydra and the Leviathan: Unmanned Maritime Vehicles and the Militarized Seaspace / Elizabeth R. Johnson  183
10. Clupea Liberum: Hugo Grotius, Free Seas, and the Political  Biology of Herring / Alison Rieser  201
11. Whales and the Colonization of the Pacific Ocean / Zsofia Korosy  219
12. The Sea Wolf and the Sovereign / Stephanie Jones  237
13. Marine Microbiopolitics: Haunted Microbes before the Law / Astrid Schrader  255
14. "Got Algae?": Putting Marine Life to Work for Sustainability / Amy Braun  275
15. "Climate Engineering Doesn't Stop Ocean Acidification": Addressing Harms to Ocean Life in Geoengineering Imaginaries / Holly Jean Buck  295
Afterword. Adequate Imaginaries for Anthropocene Seas / Stacy Alaimo  311
Contributors  327
Index  331
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0654-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0592-6