Water Ways: An International Conference on Human Relations with the Sea

Hauwezi kuvuka ziwa hadi uwe na ujasiri wa kutouona urefu wa pwani.
You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore (Swahili Proverb)

The  South African Research Chair (SARCHI) in Ocean Cultures and Heritage is pleased to announce a call for papers for  “ Water Ways: An International Conference on Human Relations with the Sea” that is set to take place  on 22-23 September 2023,  at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa .

Human relations with the ocean and coast can be described as varied and dialogical ‘Water Ways’. Humans are described as aquatic hunter-gatherers (Marean 2022) because they have long cultivated a relation with the sea and coast, using its natural marine resources for subsistence, medicine and trade. Today, more than 600 million people live at the coast and the number is growing. The ocean is a source of food for humans, it holds human history and cultural heritage, encourages exploration and communication and it looms large in human stories and beliefs. However, these ‘Water Ways’ are entangled in other forms of life and logics. The ocean is critical to marine (and other natural) biodiversity. Water meanders to the coast in streams, rivers and estuaries enriching the interface between land and sea, sheltering juvenile marine species and providing space and place for ritual life. Reflecting on the Anthropocene, environmental scholars and philosophers relate the story of perceiving nature as an asset to be leveraged for economic benefit. In this conference, we will discuss these varied emerging, globalized ‘Water Ways’, considering how anthropocentric (human focused) concerns regarding ocean and coastal ‘use’, affect other ‘users’ of these riches and how they are affected by climate change and a range of external pressures.

The conference specifically invites scholars from ‘Less Developed Countries’ (LDCs) in Africa to share their work and thoughts. The ultimate goal of the conference is to advance discussion on the role of human society and culture in producing a sustainable, healthy ocean. Presentations and posters on the subject of ocean health, sustainable ocean use, the role of the oceans in producing energy and resources, the ocean and human culture, the role of the ocean in human society and social meaning, as well as the place of the ocean in exploration and discovery are especially encouraged. Papers that have special resonance for the conference will be selected for publication in a special edition of an accredited journal. We look forward to welcoming you!

Important points to note

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: 10th March 2023
  • Abstracts shall be a maximum of 200 words including keywords and should be submitted to Boswell@mandela.ac.za and Landline.Mondile@mandela.ac.za
  • Registration fees: USD 50.00/ZAR 1000. (Students free). Account details to be supplied upon successful registration.
  • Conference location: Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

Photo credit: Peter Chadwick

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