Rising sea levels require new styles of oceanic research and writing in the humanities, that speak simultaneously to environmental and decolonial themes.
Much oceanic research focuses on the surface of the ocean, tracing movements of people, ideas and objects. But an oceanic humanities equal to the present must engage with both human and non-human aspects of the ocean, with the depth and the surface of the seas. It should decolonize the histories of oceanic space, while providing new approaches to aesthetic understandings of water. This project proposes a research agenda that can combine critical oceanic studies with postcolonial theorizations of the seas to evolve an oceanic humanities appropriate to the Global South.
The project is a collaborative exercise in placing different kinds of knowledge in proximity – about art, oceans and the south – and developing the ideas that emerge. The aim is to produce excellent research that is creative and synthetic, to develop a capacity for wider engagement through public humanities work, and to embrace an embodied research practice.The project comprises researchers based at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of the Western Cape; international partners from Mozambique, Mauritius, India, Jamaica and Barbados; associate members; and graduate students.
It is funded by the AW Mellon Foundation, the South African National Research Foundation and National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.