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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Philip Steinberg

Steinberg, P.E. Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions. Atlantic Studies. 2013;10:156-169.

Author(s) from Durham


Even as ocean-region-based studies gain popularity, they all too often fail to engage the aqueous center that lies at the heart of every maritime community. Studies that seek to highlight political economic connections across ocean basins tend to ignore the sea altogether, while those that highlight it as a site for challenging modernist notions of identity and subjectivity tend to treat the ocean solely as a metaphor. In contrast, this article argues that in order for ocean region-based studies to reach their potential, the ocean must be engaged as a material space characterized by movement and continual reformation across all of its dimensions. Drawing on a range of theories, from conceptualizations of more than-human assemblages to the oceanographic modeling techniques of Lagrangian fluid dynamics, this article proposes a perspective that highlights the liquidity of the ocean, so that the sea is seen not just as a space that facilitates movement between a region’s nodes but as one that, through its essential, dynamic mobility and continual reformation, gives us a new perspective from which to encounter a world increasingly characterized by connections and flows.