The Law of the Sea: Oceans, Ships, and the Anthropocene

Frankfurter Rechtshistorische Abendgespräche

  • Date: Oct 31, 2022
  • Time: 06:00 PM - 07:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Prof. Renisa Mawani
  • University of British Columbia
  • Location: mpilhlt
  • Room: Vortragssaal des MPI
The Law of the Sea: Oceans, Ships, and the Anthropocene

In her upcoming paper, Prof. Renisa Mawani (University of British Columbia) argues that oceans, and the European ships that crossed them, must be foregrounded in contemporary discussions of climate catastrophe. To emphasise their historical and ongoing importance, she revisits Hugo Grotius’s writings on the freedom of the sea and situates them within wider concerns of a planet in crisis. The anthropocene, as many have argued, is always already colonial, both as a discourse and as a long process of dispossession, extraction, and violence. What Grotius’s writings point to is how an international law of the sea authorised maritime commerce and colonisation, freedom of navigation, and an extractive view of nature that has led to the devastation of human and more-than-human life, and the planet.

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