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Politics of the Sea
By admin October 26, 2016

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With 75 percent of the world being comprised of water it is a mystery why so much focus on development, property, identity and politics is associated with land. Surely there is a body of law as it relates to our oceans and seas. There is a boundless amount of literature that is also related to the sea from ancient philosophy to travel novellas. Yet, there seems to be content and thought that is lacking when conceiving of the sea as being a political entity and also an area for development. Although development has reached a level where questions of sustainability are now a focus, the sea has not been an area for positive development in terms of reimagining our political and social spaces.

Worldwide, hundreds of cities are considered port cities, where the city is an entry to the sea and the sea an entry into a city. Places like Beirut, Barcelona, San Francisco, Dar es Salaam, Shanghai, Sharjah and Manila, to name a few, are places where some of the most vital goods and products are transferred from one country to another and often to a third and fourth. In imagining these seemingly seamless transfers it is poignant to think about how the sea witnesses far more than just the passing of ships and the changing tides.

Today, the sea often experiences something more violent as the Mediterranean alone stands to take the lives of over 3,000 people so far this year. A body of water that is enjoyed from the shores of France to Italy to Syria is the same body that separates a mother from her children and a father from his entire family. It is a body of water where cruise ships happily carry thousands of tourists excitedly awaiting to dock in European cities and also a body where people are franticly crossing in the dead of night.

Depending where you derive your definition of politics, an underlying foundation of the concept is that politics it is a collection of acts that affect people and vice versa. When imagining the way people have turned land into a political space, it is a wonder whether if and when the sea will also become a similar political space. When criminal acts that occur on the sea will have a direct solution, when children who are born in the sea will obtain a certain citizenship and when the sea may become a resource in a manner more than it currently serves, as people have consumed all the land based resources. Development on land is a practice that is tried and true, yet when it comes to the sea, the development of ideas and resources related to it leaves a lot to the imagination. 

For more information:

Black Sea Security and the NATO Summit

Crossing the Sea–Politics of the Mediterranean

The Politics of the Sea in Nigeria

Politics of the Port Deal

The Geopolitics of the United States


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