Jeffrey Kahn

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Davis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-963

Approve Date

March 28, 2024

Project Title

Kahn, Jeffrey (California, Davis, U. of) "An Oceanic Anthropology for the Near Future"

The compounding effects of anthropogenic climate change, the surge in migration voyages at the liquid thresholds of the global North, and the maritime logistics shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed our precarious ties to the sea as life-sustaining resource and fraught material transportation infrastructure. While anthropologists have long engaged with the world’s oceans, the discipline’s cutting-edge debates have too often relegated the maritime to its backwaters. A growing recognition of the centrality of oceanic economies and ocean-based extraction to life on our imperiled planet necessitates a reevaluation of the maritime in anthropology. We propose a workshop aimed at contemplating the potential of a novel oceanic anthropology that draws from its intellectual ancestors while also charting new waters, reflexively foregrounding how ethnographic theorizing pursued from the sea yields different substantive possibilities, modes of inquiry, and conceptual insights than that pursued from firm land. We will assemble ten scholars whose work spans the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean to produce an edited volume that will explore the possibilities of centering the aquatic in anthropological thinking about race, labor, capitalism, empire, and more-than-human ecologies, while also joining a broader ocean-themed conversation in the social sciences and humanities.