We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Professor Philip Steinberg

Personal web page

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41945
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 409

Contact Professor Philip Steinberg (email at


I came to Durham in Autumn 2013 after sixteen years in Florida State University’s Department of Geography, punctuated by one-year interludes at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers (2002-2003), the University of California, Santa Cruz’ Center for Cultural Studies (2005-2006), and Royal Holloway, University of London’s Department of Geography (2012-2013). Prior to Florida State, I attended Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography (1990-1996), where I received my MA and PhD degrees, as well as teaching briefly in Bucknell University’s Department of Geography (1997).

My research focuses on the historical, ongoing, and, at times, imaginary projection of social power onto spaces whose geophysical and geographic characteristics make them resistant to state territorialization. These spaces include the world-ocean, the Arctic, and the universe of electronic communications. Within these spaces, I study everything from artistic depictions to governance institutions to the lifeways of individuals who inhabit (or cross) their expanses. In addition to these major research themes, I frequently conduct research in complementary areas including urban planning politics; utopianism (especially as projected onto islands); critical theories of development and nature; and the links between art, cartography, visualisation, and representation.

For more on my research in all of these areas, as well as links to relevant publications and a complete c.v., please visit my personal web page.

Current Editorships & Responsibilities

Director, International Boundaries Research Unit (Durham University)

Associate Editor, Political Geography

Editorial Board Member, Island Studies Journal, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, GEO: Geography and Enviroment, Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, Rowman & Littlefield series on Island Rethinking the Island

Board Member, International Geographical Union Commission on Islands

Major Grants Held

Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships Programme to support Interdisciplinary Understanding for a Changing Arctic (PI): £1,050,000 (2018-2023)

European Commission COST Action on Ocean Governance for Sustainability (Co-leader of Seabed Working Group): €400,000 (2016-2020)

Leverhulme Trust International Networks Programme grant to support Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (The ICE LAW Project) (PI): £124,925 (2016-2018)

Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to support project on Global Alternatives for an Interconnected Arctic (GAIA) (PI): €223,038 (2012-2013)

U.S. National Science Foundation Fellowship to support project on Territorial Imaginaries and Arctic Sovereignty Claims (PI): $376,779 (2009-2013)

Florida Energy System Consortium to support project on Energy Efficiency Video Public Service Announcements (co-PI): $249,800 (2009-2010)

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Steinberg, P.E., Tasch, J. & Gerhardt, H. (2015). Contesting the Arctic: Politics and Imaginaries in the Circumpolar North. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • McDowell, Stephen D., Steinberg, Philip E. & Tomasello, Tami K. (2008). Managing the Infosphere: Governance, Technology, and Cultural Practice in Motion. Temple University Press.
  • Steinberg, Philip E. (2001). The Social Construction of the Ocean. Cambridge University Press.

Edited book

  • Peters, K.A., Steinberg, P.E. & Stratford, E. (2018). Territory Beyond Terra. Geopolitical bodies, material worlds. London New York: Rowman & Littlefield International.
  • Steinberg, Philip E. & Shields, Rob (2008). What Is a City? Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina. University of Georgia Press.

Chapter in book

  • Steinberg, P., Kristoffersen, B. & Shake, K. (2020). Edges and flows: Exploring legal materialities and biophysical politics of sea ice. In Blue Legalities: The Law and Life of the Sea. Braverman, I. & Johnson, E. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Steinberg, Philip & Kristoffersen, Berit (2018). Building a Blue Economy in the Arctic Ocean: Sustaining the Sea or Sustaining the State? In The Politics of Sustainability in the Arctic: Reconfiguring Identity, Space, and Time. Gad, U.P. & Strandsbjerg, J. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 136-148.
  • Steinberg, P. (2018). Environments. In Territory beyond Terra. Peters, K., Steinberg, P. & Stratford, E. Rowman & Littlefield International. 87-90.
  • Peters, K., Steinberg, P. & Stratford, E. (2018). Introduction. In Territory beyond Terra. Peters, K., Steinberg, P. & Stratford, E. Rowman & Littlefield International. 1-15.
  • Bruun, J. & Steinberg, P. (2018). Placing Territory on Ice: Militarisation, Measurement, and Murder in the High Arctic. In Territory beyond Terra. Peters, Kimberley A., Steinberg, Philip E. & Stratford, Elaine London New York: Rowman & Littlefield International. 147-165.
  • Steinberg, P. (2018). The Lighthouse as Survival. In From the Lighthouse: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Light. Strang, V., Edensor, T. & Puckering, J. Abingdon, Oxon New York, NY: Routledge. 179-183.
  • Steinberg, P. (2018). The Ocean and Transport / The Ocean in Transport / The Ocean as Transport; or, Mobilis in Mobili. In Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science. Hessler, S. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2018). The Power of Water. In Handbook on the Geographies of Power. Coleman, M. & Agnew, J. Cheltenham, Gloucester: Edward Elgar. 217-228.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2017). Oceans and seas, Human geography. In International Enyclopedia of Geography. Richardson, D. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2016). Afterword: Tourism, Extraction, and the Postcolonial Arctic. In Postcolonial Perspectives on the European High North. Jensen, L. & Huggan, G. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Steinberg, P.E. & Coddington, K. (2015). From Ice Law to ICE LAW: Constructing an Interdisciplinary Research Project on the Political-Legal Challenges of Polar Environments. In 2015 Arctic Yearbook. Heininen, L., Exner-Pirot, H. & Plouffe, J. Akureyri, Iceland: Northern Research Forum. 443-449.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2015). Maritime Cargomobilities: The Impossibilities of Representation. In Cargomobilities: Moving Materials in a Global Age. Birtchnell, T., Savitzky, S. & Urry, J. Routledge. 35-47.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2015). Non-linearity in the Ocean Documentary. In Documenting World Politics: A Critical Companion to IR and Non-fiction Films. van Munster, R. & Sylvest, C. Routledge. 78-94.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2015). U.S. Arctic Policy: Reproducing Hegemony in a Maritime Region. In International Relations and the Arctic: Understanding Policy and Governance. Murray, R.W. & Dey Nuttall, A. Cambria. 165-190.
  • McDowell, S.D., Nensey, Z. & Steinberg, P.E. (2014). Cooperative International Approaches to Network Security: Understanding and Assessing OECD and ITU Efforts to Promote Shared Cybersecurity. In Cyberspace and International Relations: Theories, Prospects and Challenges. Kremer, J.-F. & Müller, B. Springer. 231-252.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2014). Maintaining Hegemony at a Distance: The U.S. Arctic Region Policy Presidential Directive of 2009. In Polar Geopolitics? Knowledge, Resources and Legal Regimes. Powell, R. & Dodds, K. Edwrd Elgar. 113-130.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2014). Mediterranean Metaphors: Travel, Translation and Oceanic Imaginaries in the 'New Mediterraneans' of the Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. In Anderson, J. & Peters, K. Ashgate. 23-37.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2014). On Thalassography. In Water Worlds: Human Geographies of the Ocean. Anderson, J. & Peters, K. Ashgate. xiii-xvii.
  • Steinberg P.E. (2013). Island or Continent? In The Political Economy of Divided Islands: Unified Geographies, Multiple Polities. Baldacchino, G. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Oceans. In Oxford Bibliography of Geography. Warf, B. Oxford University Press.
  • Morgan, J.D. & Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Testing the Usability of Time-Geographic Maps for Crime Mapping. In Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Techniques. Leitner, M. Springer. 339-366.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2012). A Middle Route Through the Northwest Passage: Resolving a Controversy in the Context of International Law. In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. ABC-CLIO.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2011). Free Sea. In Sovereignty, Spatiality, and Carl Schmitt: Geographies of the Nomos. Legg, S. Routledge. 268-275.

Journal Article

  • Carver, R., Childs, J., Steinberg, P., Mabon, L., Matsuda, H., Squire, R., McLellan, B. & Esteban, M. (2020). A critical social perspective on deep sea mining: Lessons from the emergent industry in Japan. Ocean & Coastal Management 193: 105242.
  • Steinberg, Philip & Peters, Kimberley (2019). Cross-currents and undertows: A response. Dialogues in Human Geography 9(3): 333-338.
  • Steinberg, P. & Peters, K. (2019). The ocean in excess: Towards a more-than-wet ontology. Dialogues in Human Geography 9(3): 293-307.
  • Shake, K.L., Frey, K.E., Martin, D.G. & Steinberg, P.E. (2018). (Un)frozen spaces: Exploring the role of sea ice in the marine socio-legal spaces of the Bering and Beaufort Seas. Journal of Borderlands Studies 33(2): 239-253.
  • Steinberg, P. (2018). Editorial: The Ocean as Frontier. International Social Science Journal 68(229-230): 237-240.
  • Steinberg, P., Page, S., Ditmer,J., Gökariksel, B., Smith, S., Ingram, A. & Koch, N. (2018). Reassessing the Trump presidency, one year on. Political Geography 62: 207-215.
  • Van Dover, C.L., Arnaud-Haond, S., Gianni, M., Helmreich, S., Huber, J.A., Jaecke, A.L., Metaxas, A., Pendleton, L.H., Petersen, S., Ramirez-Llodra, E., Steinberg, P.E., Tunnicliffe, V. & Yamamoto, H. (2018). Scientific rationale and international obligations for protection of active hydrothermal vent ecosystems from deep-sea mining. Marine Policy 90: 20-28.
  • Steinberg, P. (2018). Views. Cultural Anthropology
  • Steinberg, P. & Kristoffersen, B. (2017). ‘The ice edge is lost … nature moved it’ mapping ice as state practice in the Canadian and Norwegian North. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42(4): 625-641.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2017). Canadian Sovereignty in the High Arctic. The Geographer (Winter): 22.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2017). Governing the Global Commons: Antarctica, the Arctic, and Outer Space. Geography Review 30(4): 22-24.
  • Benjaminsen, T.A., Buhaug, H., McConnell, F., Sharp, J.P. & Steinberg, P.E. (2017). Political Geography and the Environment. Political Geography 56(1): A1-A2.
  • Buhaug, H., McConnell, F., Sharp, J.P., Sidaway, J.D. & Steinberg, P.E. (2016). Changes at Political Geography. Political Geography 50(1): A1-A2.
  • Steinberg, P. (2016). Europe's ‘Others’ in the Polar Mediterranean. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 107(2): 177-188.
  • Peters, K. & Steinberg, P.E. (2015). A Wet World: Rethinking Place, Territory, and Time. Society & Space Open Site
  • O'Loughlin, J., Raento, P., Sharp, J.P., Sidaway, J.S. & Steinberg, P.E. (2015). Data ethics: Pluralism, replication, conflicts of interest, and standards in Political Geography. Political Geography 44: A1-A3.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2015). Reclaiming Society Publishing. Publications 3(3): 150-154.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2015). The Condition of Premodernity. Dialogues in Human Geography 5(1): 95-97.
  • Steinberg, P. & Peters, K. (2015). Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33(2): 247-264.
  • Steinberg, P.E., Bruun, J.M. & Medby, I.A. (2014). Covering Kiruna: a natural experiment in Arctic awareness. Polar Geography 37(4): 273-297.
  • O'Loughlin, J., Raento, P., Sharp, J.P., Sidaway, J.D. & Steinberg, P.E. (2014). Predators, Sanctions and Political Geography. Political Geography 38: A1-A3.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2014). Steering between Scylla and Charybdis: The Northwest Passage as Territorial Sea. Ocean Development & International Law 45(1): 84-106.
  • Steinberg, P. & Peters, K. (2014). Volume and Vision: Toward a Wet Ontology. Harvard Design Magazine 39: 124-129.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Film Review: The Forgotten Space by Allan Sekula & Noel Burch. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Kansainvälinen näkökulma tieteellisten seurojen julkaisutoimintaan = An International Perspective on Society Publishing. Terra 125(2): 73-75.
  • Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions. Atlantic Studies 10(2): 156-169.
  • O'Loughlin, J., Raento, P., Sidaway, J., Sharp, J. & Steinberg, P.E. (2013). Political Geography in the Age of Electronic Information. Political Geography 32(1): 1-2.
  • Steinberg, P.E., Nyman, E.A. & Caraccioli, M.J. (2012). Atlas Swam: Freedom, Capital, and Floating Sovereignties in the Seasteading Vision. Antipode 44(4): 1532-1550.
  • Gerhardt, Hannes, Steinberg, Philip E., Tasch, Jeremy, Fabiano, Sandra J. & Shields, Rob (2010). Contested Sovereignty in a Changing Arctic. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100(4): 992-1002.
  • Steinberg, Philip E. (2010). The Deepwater Horizon, The Mavi Marmara, and the Dynamic Zonation of Ocean-Space. The Geographical Journal 177(1): 12-16.
  • Steinberg, Philip E. & Chapman, Thomas E. (2009). Key West's Conch Republic: Building Sovereignties of Connection. Political Geography 28(5): 283-295.
  • Steinberg, Philip E. (2009). Sovereignty, Territory, and the Mapping of Mobility: A View from the Outside. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99(3): 467-495.

Book review

  • Steinberg, P. (2018). Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology Karin Animoto Ingersoll. Duke University Press, 2016, pp ix + 216 (ISBN: 978‐0‐8223‐6234‐0). Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 39(3): 472-474.

Show all publications