Fathoming Postnatural Oceans: Towards a low trophic theory in the practices of feminist posthumanities

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4:1-18 (2021)
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Abstract

As the planet’s largest ecosystem, oceans stabilise climate, produce oxygen, store CO2 and host unfathomable biodiversity at a deep time-scale. In recent decades, scientific assessments have indicated that the oceans are seriously degraded to the detriment of most near-future societies. Human-induced impacts range from climate change, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, eutrophication and marine pollution to local degradation of marine and coastal environments. Such environmental violence takes form of both ‘spectacular’ events, like oil spills and ‘slow violence’, occurring gradually and out of sight. The purpose of this paper is to show four cases of coastal and marine forms of slow violence and to provide counter-accounts of how to reinvent our consumer imaginary at such locations, as well as to develop what is here referred to as ‘low-trophic theory,’ a situated ethical stance that attends to entanglements of consumption, food, violence, environmental adaptability and more-than-human care from the co-existential perspective of multispecies ethics. We combine field-philosophical case studies with insights from marine science, environmental art and cultural practices in the Baltic and North Sea region and feminist posthumanities. The paper shows that the oceanic imaginary is not a unified place, but rather, a set of forces, which requires renewed ethical approaches, conceptual inventiveness and practical creativity. Based on the case studies and examples presented, the authors conclude that the consideration of more-than-human ethical perspectives, provided by environmental arts and humanities is crucial for both research on nature and space, and for the flourishing of local multispecies communities. This paper thus inaugurates thinking and practice along the proposed here ethical stance of low-trophic theory, developed it along the methodological lines of feminist environmental posthumanities.

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