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Staring at the sea
Benjamin de Carvalho and Halvard Leira

For an academic discipline dealing with the global, it is peculiar that International Relations (IR) has limited its gaze to a little less than 30 percent of the globe – the landed part. With sea-level rise, depletion of fish stocks, plastic pollution and piracy making the news repeatedly and constantly, it is obvious that the sea matters in international relations. It should also matter to the discipline studying these relations. In related disciplines, burgeoning literatures have recast the importance of the sea for understanding both the past and the present. Time has come for IR to catch up. This would benefit the discipline, but it would also make contributions to a better understanding of the sea. With its diverse approaches to conflict, cooperation and political co-existence, IR has obvious insights to bring to the study of the sea. In this chapter we discuss how and why IR has engaged (or not) with the sea, we explore what other disciplines can offer IR and we suggest some possibilities for fruitful engagement. We first explore why the sea has been missing from IR and the challenges facing us when trying to theorise the sea. Then we engage with the developing literature in other disciplines from the last two decades, illustrating why an IR-take makes sense, and where there is room to expand on the existing IR literature. The third section puts the focus on politics, circulation and control, before the last section lays out how the different chapters of the book engage with these overarching topics.

in The Sea and International Relations
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What’s the value of a whale?
Adrienne Buller

The introduction sets up the parameters and argument of the book. It opens with the International Monetary Fund’s valuation of a single whale to question the use of setting the monetary value of nature, opening out to demonstrate that this is just part of the financialisation of approaches to ecological and climate crises. The introduction then goes on to spell out the different aspects of economic thinking inherent in these approaches, which will be explained and analysed in the following chapters.

in The Value of a Whale
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Transnational solidarity in the long sixties
Zeina Maasri, Cathy Bergin, and Francesca Burke

This introduction argues that anticolonial solidarity is central to understanding the radical politics of the long sixties. More than an attempt to complicate the spatial and temporal coordinates of traditional scholarship of the period, we trace how solidarity was imagined and enacted across metaphorical and literal border zones. Beyond its articulation within the Global South, the anticolonial liberation project conjured up a broader framework of solidarity that intersected with African American civil rights movements and revolutionary anti-imperialism in the Global North and, not least, mobilised diasporic and postcolonial immigrant communities in the metropoles. The inauguration of powerful forms of transnational identification is evident in and through the radical cultures of circulation that linked up the diverse, yet interconnected, liberation struggles of the global sixties. Emphasising the necessity for an interdisciplinary approach in order to access these marginalised histories, we propose that the trajectories of anticolonial solidarity in the long sixties provide potent models of resistance that can speak to the racialising power structures of the early twenty-first century.

in Transnational solidarity
Radical transregional solidarities
Claudia Derichs

In the shade of the left-right binary of the Cold War of the 1960s, transregional Islamic solidarity occupied state and non-state actors’ agendas. The 1960s and the extension of the decade into the 1970s, and partly also the 1980s (‘the long sixties’) saw radical activists in Asia, Africa and the Middle East forming transregional connections. In the latter period, the Islamisation of politics and society in resistance to domestic and foreign (authoritarian) regimes was a conspicuous concern. This chapter explores religion as a mobilising factor with transformative power in the struggle for political change. I argue that Islamist movements of the 1960s and 1970s had a similar impact on their societies and politics as the New Left movements had elsewhere. The wave of Islamic resurgence formed a major transnational and transregional movement with implications for reflecting social movement theory. It merits paying attention to their ideological mobilisations, solidarities and connectivities, and the ways in which they exerted influence on the change of times. The chapter focuses on Indonesia as a case study for Afro-Asian as well as Middle East-Asian transregional connectivity in the framework of Islam/ism. It traces the long 1960s as a period of considerable social change and argues that the binary of left and right is too narrow a lens for understanding the dynamics of this period.

in Transnational solidarity
Fearghus Roulston

This chapter engages with two interviews, with Petesy Burns and Damien McCorry. Both Petesy and Damien come from working-class, majority-Catholic parts of Belfast, and both offer a reading of the punk scene that stresses its capacity to intervene in the segregated and class-stratified urban landscape of the city. Beginning with Petesy’s interview, the chapter follows his trajectory from playing in punk bands to setting up an anarchist social centre and collective in Belfast, the Warzone Collective and Giro’s. It also highlights the affective and epiphanic importance of key moments, such as seeing Crass play, in his narrative. Moving to Damien’s interview, the chapter draws out the nuanced sense of possibilities and constraints he evokes in relation to playing in a band in the 1970s and 1980s, before analysing the specific political connections Damien makes between punk and issues like racism and unemployment. It concludes by suggesting some of the connections between the two interviews.

in Belfast punk and the Troubles
Transnational revolutionaries, exiles and the formation of the Tupamaros in early 1960s Montevideo
Marina Cardozo

Towards the end of 1962, the first meetings of political militants took place in Montevideo. These meetings led to the formation of the so-called Coordinator – a network of political groups that carried out armed operations. These groups included members of the Movement to Support Peasants, the Revolutionary Left Movement, militants of the Socialist Party of Uruguay, the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation and unorganised anarchist and left-wing militants. The Coordinator established links with other Latin American activists based on direct contacts with members of movements or organisations in the region – many of them temporary political refugees in Montevideo. Thus, the provincial city of Montevideo, capital of a small and untrumpeted state, became a transit, a meeting point, between the budding local armed Left and other important regional armed movements. These groups and militants were united by one idea: to make possible the continental and anti-imperialist revolution. This was a revolution that the old Left, notably the communist and socialist parties, of the region had failed to create. This chapter explores a set of revolutionary connections made between the emerging Uruguayan armed Left and various networks of local and international Left militants in the early 1960s.  Using oral interviews, press and other contemporary documents, it analyses a key moment in the configuration of the idea of the revolutionary, as well as the consolidation of the new radical Left in Uruguay and Latin America.

in Transnational solidarity
Filippa Sofia Braarud

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the term ‘common heritage of mankind’ was coined as a promise to the international community, stipulating that all states would benefit equally from the areas that fell within its scope. The regime grew to encompass the deep seabed among other areas that lay beyond the sovereign jurisdiction of any one state. Until recent years, the deep seabed has been left relatively idle due to the complications in accessing and exploiting it. Today, however, technological advances have made deep-sea commercial mining operations possible, while its potential consequences for the marine ecosystems remain understudied. These potential ecological risks have prompted a search for new legal mechanisms for states to seek redress should the deep seabed be unlawfully polluted, appropriated or exploited. Although still a relatively ambiguous concept in international law, obligations erga omnes have emerged in cases where the norm breached would be redundant if no state could claim a legal interest in defending it. This chapter analyses the legal grounds underpinning the presumption that the designation of the deep seabed as the common heritage of mankind gives rise to erga omnes obligations, as technological advancement is making it accessible for exploitation. 

in The Sea and International Relations
The case of Angela Davis in Egypt
Sara Salem

In the early 1980s, Angela Davis visited Egypt, a trip she wrote about in her book Women, Culture, and Politics. This chapter uses Davis’ trip as a lens through which to approach the question of transnational feminist solidarity through the eyes of multiple generations of Egyptian feminists. It argues that the particular conditions in Egypt in the 1950s through to the 1970s allowed for new international forms of solidarity focused on material conditions. This enabled Egyptian feminists to forge solidarity with women across the globe, including Angela Davis, who located gender oppression within the same structures – namely, capitalism and imperialism. This type of solidarity was made possible by the particular political and economic context of the 1950s–80s, which differed radically from the eras preceding and following it, as well as the analysis that came out of this context, including a strong focus on capitalism and imperialism. Indeed, the decline of this type of analysis can be located in the changes that occurred in Egypt in the 1970s and 1980s – following the shift to an open-market economy. This shift has had major effects on the ways in which Egyptian feminists imagined and put into practice forms of transnational feminist solidarity. By looking at Davis’ encounter with Egyptian feminists, this chapter demonstrates how practices that were built on a material analysis of gender allowed for solidarity to be created by making differences productive rather than merely divisive.

in Transnational solidarity
Imagining sameness and solidarity through Zerqa (1969)
Sabah Haider

In 1969 Pakistan was experiencing two separate insurgencies: in East Pakistan a democratic uprising was in full swing; and in Baluchistan separatists were engaged in a violent war against the Pakistani army. The government regularly implemented media blackouts to keep the nation in the dark about the country’s troubles. That year, Pakistan’s popular ‘Lollywood’ film industry released Zarqa, a feature film about the Palestinian cause that tells the story of the violent and unjust Israeli occupation of Palestine and rise of the Palestinian liberation movement.

Zarqa became a mega-hit and became the first film in the country showing in cinemas for over one hundred weeks straight. Across the country, Pakistanis were singing the Urdu language revolutionary Palestinian anthems composed for the film. During this period the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) held a special relationship with Pakistan, the PLO’s leader Yasser Arafat visited often, and student solidarity groups were active on campuses. Throughout the 1970s, thousands of Pakistani civilians volunteered as fida’iyeen fighters with the PLO, ready to die for Palestine. This chapter uses original testimonies from former Pakistani fida’iyeen and those who knew them. Despite representing different ethnicities, geographies, education and social classes all expressed they were motivated by a popular ethical imperative. This chapter explores the narrative and political imaginary of the film in terms of how it created the context for widespread solidarity and Palestine as a popular movement in Pakistan, and strategically redirected the national gaze away from domestic politics and towards Palestine as the central moral conflict.

in Transnational solidarity

The sea and International Relations is a path-breaking collection which opens up the conversation about the sea in International Relations (IR), and probes the value of analysing the sea in IR terms. While the world’s oceans cover more than 70 percent of its surface, the sea has largely vanished as an object of enquiry in IR, being treated either as a corollary of land or as time. Yet, the sea is the quintessential international space, and its importance to global politics has become all the more obvious in recent years. Drawing on interdisciplinary insights from IR, historical sociology, blue humanities and critical ocean studies, The sea and International Relations breaks with this trend of oceanic amnesia, and kickstarts a theoretical, conceptual and empirical discussion about the sea and IR, offering novel takes on the spatiality of world politics by highlighting theoretical puzzles, analysing broad historical perspectives and addressing contemporary challenges. In bringing the sea back into IR, The sea and International Relations reconceptualises the canvas of IR to include the oceans not only as travel time, but as a social, political, economic and military space which affects the workings of world politics. As such, The sea and International Relations is as ambitious as it is timely. Together, the contributions to the volume emphasise the pressing need to think of the world with the sea rather than ignoring it in order to address not only the ecological fate of the globe, but changing forms of international order.