(Un)seen Seas

Technological Mediation, Oceanic Imaginaries, and Future Depths

in Environment and Society
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  • 1 Columbia University stephanie.ratte@columbia.edu
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Abstract

Remote technologies and digitally mediated representations now serve as a central mode of interaction with hard-to-reach sea spaces and places. This article reviews the literature on varied scholarly engagements with the sea and on the oceanic application of technologies—among them geographic information systems, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles—that allow people to envision and engage with deep and distant oceanic spaces. I focus on the extension of a digital and disembodied human presence in the oceans and the persistence of frontier fictions, in which the sea figures as a site of future-oriented possibilities. Finally, I ask what the emphasis on “seeing” through technological mediation means for how we imagine vast spaces, and consider how these elements of the oceanic imaginary can be productively complicated by drawing attention to the materiality of the oceans and the scalar politics of dynamic spaces.

Contributor Notes

STEPHANIE RATTÉ is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Her research interests include the entanglement of climate change, oceanscapes, and placemaking in the Pacific, the politics of space and scale, and the temporal dimensions and uncertainties of climate change futures. Email: stephanie.ratte@columbia.edu

Environment and Society

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