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Land & Sea

#6 April 2017
Nina Jäger 2017

Changes in Fluvial Systems, River Sediments and Deltas

Fluvial systems provide a basin from which to study the impact of human alterations of Earth. In a special session of the Anthropocene Working Group, geologist and oceanographer James Syvitski maps how the human modification of the world’s hydrological system continues to accelerate, how deltas are starved of sediment due to dam building, and how wetlands are lost and coasts retreat

by James P. M. Syvitski
26 seconds read

China’s “Blue Territory” and the Technosphere in Maritime East Asia

Beyond the contentious geopolitical edifice of the South China Sea lies a mosaic of technological and ecological manipulations of land and sea interfaces that define how the area’s many contests are negotiated. Political scientist Andrew Chubb maps this complex space, tying together security, land rights, information technology, historical geopolitics, and the creation of artificial islands that construct it.

by Andrew Chubb
648 seconds read

Jakarta: A Colonial Water-Management Fantasy Park

In this brief statement excerpted from a conversation about Southeast Asian urbanism and geology, philosopher Etienne Turpin sketches the root problematics faced by the city of Jakarta as exemplified by its land and sea interfaces.

by Etienne Turpin
89 seconds read

Kish, an Island Indecisive by Design

The Iranian island of Kish, due to its particular geographic location in the Persian Gulf, exemplifies how territorial separation can lead to political and economic hubris in the form of a globalized free-trade zone. Narrating its storied history, artists Nasrin Tabatabai and Barak Afrassiabi explore the strange role of this island as a designated place of exception in reality and imagination.

by Nasrin Tabatabai, Babak Afrassiabi
1042 seconds read

On Land and Lakes: Colonizing the North

The Sámi, having lived in the Arctic regions of Scandinavia for millennia, have cultivated ritualized fishing and lake-caring techniques that maintain a reciprocal relationship with their aqueous environment. But over the years, these practices of relation have been threatened by the encroachment of industry, climate change, and even environmental restrictions. The social scientists Liv Østmo and John Law explain how this complicates the ontology of an entire region.

by Liv Østmo, John Law
957 seconds read

Port Cities: Nodes in the Global Petroleumscape between Sea and Land

Mapping the interplay between oil corporations, coastal regions, and colonial politics, architecture historian Carola Hein investigates the establishment, transformation, and possible future of the global petroleumscape. The result is a portolan chart of the networked infrastructure of extraction, refining, transport, and storage by which the open sea faces the continental hinterlands.

by Carola Hein
608 seconds read

Rivers, Coasts, and the Geographical Dimensions of Patent Innovation

Levees and dams form the fluvial geography of the technosphere. Landscape architect Richard Hindle shows how patents have historically catalyzed the establishment of these formations. His essay maps the Mississippi, Sacramento and San Joaquin River Deltas through the patent system, tracing how it helped transform what is and could have been possible along riverine and coastal systems.

by Richard L. Hindle
361 seconds read

The Risk Equipment Deserves More Credit: Modeling, Epistemic Opacity, and Immersion

Through examining the way hydraulic engineers employ and tinker with computational models for managing water-related risks, science and technology scholar Matthijs Kouw argues for a more reflected stand against such modeling practice. These models are indispensable as critical tools, and understanding simulation practices as a hybrid and situated form of making-do can lead to better reflection on their epistemic potential.

by Matthijs Kouw
602 seconds read

Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes

Artist and photographer Axel Braun collects case studies on contentious infrastructure projects in order to trace humanity’s development as a geological force. His studies focus on human-altered landscapes as byproducts of discourses and processes that describe the technosphere as it brings forth the Anthropocene. Braun’s growing anthology of examples invites readers to complement the artist’s selection with their own observations and experiences.

by Axel Braun
763 seconds read

When the Sea Begins to Dominate the Land

What happens to the baselines under the international law of the sea when coastlines are no longer stable? In this interview, legal scholar Davor Vidas presents a wide horizon of connections between the exploitation of submarine resources and the zoning of maritime and territorial space and discusses how rising sea levels and offshore artificial structures are creating a host of challenges for the future of the Law of the Sea.

by Davor Vidas
736 seconds read
The land and sea used to determine both the inner speciation of organisms and the outer limits of their habitats. This included the human species, at least for most of its existence. Yet through the establishment of built environments, territorial law, and global trade as well as the exploitation and cultivation of marine resources, humans have increasingly recomposed the liminal spaces of shorelines, hinterlands, and continental shelves. In doing so, they have also altered fundamental baselines in the organization of nature and culture. Today, the natural (even if always fluctuating) dividing lines between terrestrial and marine environments are constantly transformed and translated into technologies of partition and passage, thereby creating an emblematic aspect of the technosphere. As territorial interfaces of organization, these technologies enable the alteration of existing borders and the creation of new ones to divide, cluster, and reassemble humans, materials, and entire ecosystems. This dossier therefore focuses on technological uses and manipulations of “natural” border spaces and their transformation into ambiguous zones of passage, as well as on legal and economic delimitations of what constitutes territory and trade. From reshaped waterfronts and river systems, to global oil port infrastructures, to the impact of urbanization on river deltas, and from the construction of artificial islands to the territorial politics that exploit these shifts in landform, this dossier explores the recomposition of interconnected economies, legal frameworks, and environments along the liminal spaces that blend land and sea into one another.