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Posthuman? Nature and Culture in Renegotiation

Kornelia Engert and Christiane Schürkmann


The contributions in this special issue focus on different phenomena and conceptual approaches dealing with “the Posthuman” as a discourse of renegotiating nature-culture-relationships that has emerged over the past decades. The selected articles from fields of sociology, political science, and social anthropology demonstrate how to work with and discuss posthumanistic and post-anthropocentric perspectives, but also how to irritate and criticize universal assumptions of particular posthuman approaches empirically and theoretically. The introduction aims to position the particular contributions in a field of tension between de- and re-centering human beings and human agency.

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Appropriate Targets

Global Patterns in Interaction and Conflict Surrounding Cetacean Conservation and Traditional Marine Hunting Communities

Florence Durney


With the International Whaling Commission's 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling in force, much of today's cetacean hunting is done by traditional or indigenous communities for subsistence use. However, many communities continue to face pressure from other global stakeholders to stop. Informed by my research with marine hunters in Indonesia, this article combines scholarship from biology, philosophy, and law with global anthropology on cetacean hunting groups to explore a set of recurring arguments arising between hunting communities, management and conservation bodies, and publics. These include the role of charismatic species in Western imagination and conservation; how understandings of animal sentience determine acceptable prey; disputes about the authenticity of and control over traditional hunting practice; and the entanglement of cultural sovereignty and rights to animal resources. Bringing these arguments together allows for an examination of how the dominant global discourse about traditional whaling is shaped and how it affects extant hunting communities.

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Eugene N. Anderson, Jodie Asselin, Jessica diCarlo, Ritwick Ghosh, Michelle Hak Hepburn, Allison Koch, and Lindsay Vogt

Hamilton, Sarah R. 2018. Cultivating Nature: The Conservation of a Valencian Working Landscape. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 312 pp. ISBN 978-0-295-74331-8.

Besky, Sarah, and Alex Blanchette, eds. 2019. How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 272 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8263-6085-4

Lora-Wainwright, Anna. 2017. Resigned Activism: Living with Pollution in Rural China. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 272 pp. ISBN: 978-0-2620-3632-0.

Symons, Jonathan. 2019. Ecomodernism: Technology, Politics and the Climate Crisis. Cambridge: Polity. 232 pp. ISBN: 978-1-5095-3120-2.

Miller, Theresa L. 2019. Plant Kin: A Multispecies Ethnography in Indigenous Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press. 328 pp. ISBN 978-1-4773-1740-2.

Aistara, Guntra. 2018. Organic Sovereignties: Struggles Over Farming in an Age of Free Trade. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 272 pp. ISBN 978-0-295-74311-0.

Drew, Georgina. 2017. River Dialogues: Hindu Faith and the Political Ecology of Dams on the Sacred Ganga. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 264 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8165-4098-3.

Folch, Christine. 2019. Hydropolitics: The Itaipú Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 272 pp. ISBN: 978-0-6911-8659-7.

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Decoupling Seascapes

An Anthropology of Marine Stock Enhancement Science in Japan

Shingo Hamada


The roles played in fishery resource management by the nonhuman species that coevolve with humans are often marginalized in both discourse and practice. Built on existing reviews of the multispecies ethnography of maritime conservation, domestication, and marine biology, this article aims to reconceptualize the politics of difference in stock enhancement. By examining the herring stock enhancement program in Japan as an assemblage of multispecies inter- and intra-action in the context of marine science and seascaping, this article recontextualizes fisheries management and crosses the methodological and ontological borders in maritime studies. The article shows that multispecies ethnography serves as a heuristic means to describe the co-constitution of seascapes, which are beings, things, and bodies of information and processes that shape marine surroundings, or what fisheries biologists and fisheries resource managers tend to overlook as mere background.

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Documenting Sea Change

Ocean Data Technologies, Sciences, and Governance

Kathleen M. Sullivan


This review examines social science and practitioner literature regarding the relationship between ocean sciences big data projects and ocean governance. I contend that three overarching approaches to the study of the development of ocean sciences big data techne (the arts of data creation, management, and sharing) and data technologies can be discerned. The first approach traces histories of ocean sciences data technologies, highlighting the significant role of governments in their development. The second approach is comprised of an oceanic contribution to the study of ontological politics. The third takes a human-social centered approach, examining the networks of people and practices responsible for creating and maintaining ocean sciences big data infrastructure. The three approaches make possible a comparative reflection on the entangled ethical strands at work in the literature.

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Green Out of the Blue, or How (Not) to Deal with Overfed Oceans

An Analytical Review of Coastal Eutrophication and Social Conflict

Alix Levain, Carole Barthélémy, Magalie Bourblanc, Jean-Marc Douguet, Agathe Euzen, and Yves Souchon


Despite causing harmful impacts on coastal communities and biodiversity for a few decades, eutrophication of marine systems has only recently gained public visibility. Representing a major land-based pollution, eutrophication is now considered the most striking symptom of intractable disruption of biogeochemical nutrient cycles at a global scale. The objective of this article is to analyze multi-scale dynamics of the problematization and regulation of ocean overfertilization. To do so, we build on a comprehensive literature review of previously published works that address the sociopolitical dimension of eutrophication issues and whose visibility we analyze with a critical perspective. We identify three stages that characterize the social history of marine eutrophication and how it was handled by public authorities. Although social mobilizations focus on emblematic sites, conflicts directly related to eutrophication symptoms spread in diverse hydro-social configurations. We conclude with a typology of four configurations associated with enduring nutrient pollution: noisy, overwhelming, silenced, and disturbing eutrophication.

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Joshua Mullenite

Barber, Benjamin R. 2017. Cool Cities: Urban Sovereignty and the Fix for Global Warming. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 224 pp. ISBN: 978-0-300-22420-7.

Günel, Gökçe. 2019. Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change, and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 272 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-0091-4.

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Amelia Moore and Jerry K. Jacka


In this introduction, we introduce the new editors of the journal and the new members of the editorial board. We then summarize the articles, highlighting the intellectual contributions they make to an environmental and social analysis of the world's oceans, ocean scientists, and marine species.

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Navigating Shifting Regimes of Ocean Governance

From UNCLOS to Sustainable Development Goal 14

Ana K. Spalding and Ricardo de Ycaza


Recent decades have seen a rapid increase in the diversity of ocean uses and threats, leading to the Anthropocene ocean: a place fraught with challenges for governance such as resource collapse, pollution, and changing sea levels and ocean chemistry. Here we review shifts in ocean governance regimes from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the first legal regime for the global ocean, to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and beyond. This second period represents a merging of growing international interest in the ocean as part of the global sustainable development agenda—characterized by a focus on knowledge, collaboration, and the formation of alliances between diverse actors and institutions of environmental governance. To conduct this review, we analyzed literature on changing actors, regimes, and institutional arrangements for ocean governance over time. We conclude with a summary of challenges and opportunities for future ocean governance.

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New Materialist Approaches to Fisheries

The Birth of “Bycatch”

Lauren Drakopulos


For the past 40 years, bycatch has been a significant focus of fisheries science and management, yet bycatch has evaded clear definition persisting as a perennial fisheries concern. This article brings insights from new materialism to examine the ontological politics of bycatch. Building on new materialist approaches to oceans and fisheries, the article contributes to the bycatch debate by putting forth a new framework for understanding bycatch as multiple, enacted through the material-discursive practices of science and policy. Through a survey of policy and scientific documents, the article traces the emergence of “bycatch” as a global fisheries issue. The analysis broadens the orderings and normative understandings about human and nonhuman life inflected by post-humanist and new materialist traditions, as well as fisheries science and policy.