Philip Steinberg - Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces, Deep Truths, Legal Fi(x/ss)ions, Cold Facts

25.04.2018 - 16:00
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Open to the public

We are very excited to have a visit from Philip Steinberg in the context of the Art&Ocean pilot project. Steinberg will give a talk "Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces, Deep Truths, Legal Fi(x/ss)ions, Cold Facts" with a following discussion.

This paper expands on recent attempts to destabilise the static, bordered, and linear framings that typify human geographical studies of place, territory, and time. In a world conceptualised as open, immanent, and ever-becoming, scholars have turned away from notions of fixity towards concepts of fluidity and flow, and, in so doing, they have developed networked, “flat” ontologies. Recent attempts have gone further, challenging the horizontalism inherent in such approaches by opening up a vertical world of volume. Even in these approaches, however, the vertical element of volume is all too often abstract and dematerialised; the emphasis on materiality that is typically used to rectify this excess of abstraction tends to reproduce a sense of matter as fixed and grounded; and the temporality that is employed to reintroduce “motion” to matter has the unintended effect of signalling a periodised sense of time that minimises the chaotic underpinnings and experiences of place. As an alternative, this paper proposes a ‘wet ontology’ wherein the voluminous, haptic, dynamic, and mobile nature of space is promoted as a ‘foundation’ for the political organisation of space, rather than being denigrated as its nemesis. However, this reframing of the relationship between space, time, matter, politics, and law poses new hurdles, as well as exciting possibilities, including through engagement with various forms of earthly matter. These are reviewed with reference to current work developing legal and regulatory systems for icy environments in the Arctic.

Philip Steinberg is Professor of Political Geography at Durham University, where he directs IBRU: The Centre for Borders Research; the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene and the World (the ICE LAW Project); and the Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC). He is the author or editor of five books including The Social Construction of the Ocean (Cambridge, 2001), Managing the Infosphere: Governance, Technology, and Cultural Practice in Motion (Temple, 2008), What Is a City? Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina (Georgia, 2008), Contesting the Arctic: Politics and Imaginaries in the Circumpolar North (I.B. Tauris, 2015), and Territory beyond Terra (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal Political Geography.

The lecture will be in Kunstarken
Entry from the crossing of Kirkegata and Gyldenløves gate

He will also give a talk "From the Black Atlantic to the White Arctic: Alterity and Materiality in the Ocean Region" in Dragvold on the 23 April
13:15 – 15:00
Dragvoll Campus
Building 2, Level 5, Meeting Room 7
More information and how to sign up:

Photo:Kate Butcher and Sebastian Schumacher

Postal address:
Kunstakademiet i Trondheim
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
N-7491 Trondheim

Visiting address:
Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget)

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Tel. +47 73 59 79 00
Fax. +47 73 59 79 20