SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Capitalism and the Sea: Sovereignty, Territory and Accumulation in the Global Ocean

Dr Liam Campling, Alejandro Colás

Date: 7 March 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 7 March 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Alumni Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar

We introduce the term ‘terraqueous territoriality’ to analyse a particular relationship between capitalism as a social formation, and the sea as a natural force. Focusing on three spaces – exclusive economic zones (EEZs), the system of ‘flags of convenience’, and multilateral counter-piracy initiatives – the talk points to these as instances of capitalist states and firms seeking to transcend the geo-physical difference between firm land and fluid sea. Capital, it is argued, constantly seeks to territorialise the sea through forms of sovereignty and modes of accumulation drawn from experiences on land, thereby generating distinctive spatial effects. These create all kinds of challenges and contradictions, which often resolve themselves through the paradoxical ‘maritimisation’ of socio-economic and political relations on land. By exploring the articulation between sovereignty, territory and accumulation in the organisation of spaces where land meets sea, we aim to demonstrate the value of an analytical framework that underlines the terraqueous nature of contemporary capitalism.

Liam Campling teaches political economy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). He has published widely on the relationship between global production, international trade, and the political economy of development and the environment. He is currently involved in an ESRC funded project on the role of labour standards in EU free trade agreements and is working on a monograph titled Capitalism and the Sea (Verso, forthcoming). He is director of the Centre on Labour and Global Production, QMUL and an editor of Journal of Agrarian Change.

Alejandro Colás is Reader in International Relations at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he directs the MSc in International Security and Global Governance and the MSc in Global Environmental Politics and Policy. He is author of Empires (Polity Press, 2007) and co-edited with Bryan Mabee Pirates, Mercenaries, Bandits,  and Empires: Private Violence in Historical Context (Hurst, 2010). He has published on subjects ranging from Spanish responses to terrorism, imperialism, internationalism and global governance in journals like International Affairs, Review of International Studies, Development and Change, Millennium, European Journal of International Relations and Contemporary Politics.


Organiser: Dr Feyzi Ismail and Professor Alfredo Saad Filho

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