This article is free to access.
In this article, I address the omission of the ocean or the aqua in geo-political scholarship and public debate. My argument is motivated by the public descriptions of Putin’s invasion and war in Ukraine and the lack of attention to the oceanic geopolitics of deep sea mining. Descriptions of Putin’s attack reproduce old terrestrial arguments about the role of geography in figuring national identity and destiny. On the contrary, I posit that the war in Ukraine is focused on capturing control of the oceanic circulation of resources. Deep sea mining is framed as a green response to defossilization of energy and the economy, and centres on mining minerals on the sea floor for the ‘EV revolution’. I argue that these two events or crises can be understood through a conjunctural framework. However, this involves reworking cultural studies’ usual understanding of conjunctural analysis. Following the work of Ben Highmore and others, this means deepening the geopolitical, historical and material scales involved in the disjunctures that hold together simultaneously yet separately the invasion of Ukraine and the legal framing of mining the deep seas through the UN Convention of the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Such an analysis involves narrating the clashing of what Timothy Clarke calls the derangement of temporal scales of the Anthropocene if we are to figure ‘what happening now’.
Probyn, E. (2023). Aqua/geopolitical conjuncture and disjuncture: invasion, resources, and mining the deep dark sea. Cultural Studies, 37(4), 696–717. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2023.2173793