13. Maritime geopolitics

Chairs: Virginie Mamadouh (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Type: hybrid

Although traditionally associated with territories and territorial claims, geopolitics is a particularly pertinent lense to study the writing of the ocean and other water bodies. Early geopolitical analyses (Mahan, Mackinder) focused on the competition between sea power and land power, the importance of access to the sea for the development of nations and the impact of technological innovation in maritime and fluvial transportation on economic and military might. Geopolitical perspectives address nowadays a wide arrays of maritime issues. They cover the geopolitical discourses of specific actors (states, international organisations, media, movements, firms…) pertaining to specific portions of land or water, the embodied experience of the ocean as well as volumetric geopolitical assemblages. The ocean, seas and other bodies of waters (including lakes, larger rivers and deltas) and the land-water interface (ports, mangroves, beaches, dikes, islands) remain fascinating objects of geopolitical inquiry. The session welcomes conceptual and empirical contributions dealing with geopolitical discourses and practices related to maritime areas, including coasts, islands, straights, sea-level waterways (like the Suez or the Panama canals) and blue colonization projects. Such discourses pertain to different scales: the geographical imaginations of the open sea in international law and of the ocean in international climate governance; the geopolitical visions of states regarding their influence on national and international waters, the continental shelf and the high seas, and their connections with territories and places overseas (from colonial legacy to the Maritime Silk Road of the Belt and Road Initiative); and the geopolitical representations of (entitlements to) sea resources such as fishing, mangrove agriculture, sea mining, sand replenishment, etc. in local coastal communities. Beyond analyses of geopolitical claims and narratives, the session welcomes contributions from a from a diversity of geopolitical perspectives, ranging from traditional geopolitics and historical accounts of the evolution of geopolitical thought, to feminist, decolonial and more-than-human approaches. With these sessions on Maritime Geopolitics the IGU Commission on Political Geography aims at stimulating knowledge production and exchange about ocean geopolitical issues and to the contribution of political geography and geopolitics to Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Keywords: geopolitics, critical geopolitics, popular geopolitics, feminist geopolitics, Anthropocene geopolitics