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Turbulent waters in three parts.

Lehman, J. and Steinberg, P. and Johnson, E.R. (2021) 'Turbulent waters in three parts.', Theory and event., 24 (1). pp. 192-219.


While scientific accounts of ocean dynamics draw public attention to the turbulence of earthly matter, the science alone tells a truncated story. The ocean's turbulent materiality is more than material: practices of scientific knowledge and historically embedded meanings and metaphors also constitute how we know, understand, and attempt to govern ocean and land alike. Indeed, planetary ocean science is always located within a history and politics, embedded within Western epistemic structures and tied to extraction and colonialism. Additionally, as ocean ecologies and human food systems are recognized as ever more fragile and as the ocean increasingly is understood as "up for grabs" as a site of investment, extraction, and production, there is much at stake in how and where we locate the turbulence of marine systems. In this essay, we invite turbulence into our writing practices by bringing together three perspectives on the complex relationship between metaphor and materiality with regard to oceanic worlds. Each co-author writes on the ocean from a different perspective: the lines and laws of the ocean (Steinberg); the governance and epistemic cultures of ocean life (Johnson); and practices of marine historical knowledge production (Lehman). Throughout this essay we experiment with bringing those perspectives together to consider how turbulence matters differently when read through different lineages of theory and ocean scholarship: How do legal infrastructures, scientific apparatuses, human histories, and marine lifeforms tell different stories of the ocean and its processes? We further consider how thinking across our different projects might bring to light not only the turbulence of ocean matter, but also practices of knowledge production and meaning as we envision various futures of and with the ocean.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:16 November 2020
Date deposited:16 March 2021
Date of first online publication:01 February 2021
Date first made open access:16 March 2021

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