Van-Pelt Library - Class of '55 (Room 241)
Jessica Lehman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Planetary Sea, Ocean Archive
The world ocean and other global-scale environments are increasingly compelling to environmental scholars and activists. Yet how can we 'scale up' our analyses without eliding difference and inequality? This talk forwards an alternative and interdisciplinary reading of global-scale technoscience to propose the notion of the ocean as an archive of planetary history. While the geologic archive has become prominent in discourses of the Anthropocene, the ocean contains other possibilities for understanding the nature of planetary history. Postcolonial writers imagine the ocean as a collector of the histories, bodies, and ways of life that hegemonic historical narratives would rather forget. Scientists also understand the ocean as a kind of recorder, following materials or liquid formations through time to understand ocean dynamics and to trace the harmful impacts of substances such as radioactive isotopes and plastics. In this talk, I build on these oddly resonant notions to consider the world ocean as an archive of history that accounts for difference on a planetary scale.