Sustaining Seas: Oceanic Space and the Politics of Care

Friday 8 May, 2020
2:30 - 4:30pm

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This event will be streamed via zoom. Should you wish to join, please contact us.


Sydney Environment Institute and the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies celebrates the publication of Sustaining Seas: Oceanic Space and the Politics of Care, edited by Elspeth Probyn, Kate Johnston, and Nancy Lee with this interdisciplinary academic panel.

Sustaining Seas foregrounds conversations across, and within, several disciplines, including practitioners of different specialities (artists, writers, planners, policymakers) about how to sustain the seas, as they sustain us. Sustaining Seas aims to build a better understanding of what it means to care for aquatic places and their biocultural communities. The book takes the reader in different directions, and sometimes into whirlpools of historical fact, fictions, and legal frictions. Sustaining Seas assumes that understanding complexity, including social, cultural, colonial, ecological and economic interconnections, is crucial to any interrogation of the marine human.

The editors, and contributing authors Alana Mann, Adriana Vergés and Amaia Sánchez-Velasco in a panel discussion moderated by Tess Lea, followed by a Q&A.


Tess Lea (Moderator) is an Associate Professor who specialises in the anthropology of policy. Her fundamental interest is with issues of (dys)function: how it occurs and to what, whom and how it is ascribed. Looking at extraction industries, everyday militarisation, houses, infrastructure (e.g. plumbing and roads), schools, and efforts to create culturally congruent forms of employment and enterprise from multiple perspectives, her work asks why the path to realising seemingly straightforward ambitions is so densely obstacled.

Alana Mann is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), University of Sydney, Australia, and a key researcher in the University’s Sydney Environment Institute. Her research focuses on the communicative dimensions of citizen engagement, participation, and collective action in food systems planning and governance.

Elspeth Probyn is Professor of Gender & Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. The author of numerous monographs and collections, in the last ten years her research has turned to questions about the sustainability of the production and consumption of fish (Eating the Ocean, Duke University Press, 2016). Selling the Seas, her current research project funded by the ARC, uses urban fish markets as localised optics into ever-widening global problems: the politics of sea grabbing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and geopolitical marine conflict, ocean warming, pollution, and the densification of coastal cities.

Amaia Sánchez-Velasco is an architect and lecturer at the School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney. She is also the co-founder of Grandeza Studio, an architectural collective that operates between the fields of spatial practice, design, cultural production and pedagogical explorations. Their research and collaborative creative practice detects, denounces and challenges the transformative violence that late-capitalism practices apply over subjects, spaces and ecologies. In 2019, she co-directed the Golden Bee awarded Australian Pavilion called “Teatro Della Terra Alienata” at the XXIInd Design and Architecture Triennale in Milan: Broken Nature.

Adriana Vergés is an Associate Professor and marine ecologist based at UNSW Sydney. Her research focuses on the ecological impacts of climate change in our oceans and how to develop restoration solutions to rewild our coastlines. Adriana was awarded a Green Globe Award in 2017 for her ‘Operation Crayweed’ work restoring Sydney’s underwater forests, and she received the inaugural UNSW Emerging Thought Leader Prize in 2019.

Launched by:

Michelle Voyer is a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at the University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on the human dimensions of marine conservation and resource management, and the nexus of social science and policy, including commercial and recreational fisheries, MPAs, Indigenous cultural fishing and maritime and ocean uses as part of an emerging ‘Blue Economy’.