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SEATIMES: How Climate Change Transforms Human-Marine Temporalities

Alternative title: SEATIMES: Hvordan Klimaendringer Forandrer Marin-Menneskelig Tid

Awarded: NOK 9.7 mill.

Fish and other marine creatures shape the life of coastal people around the world. What happens then, when marine ecosystems change massively due to climate change? The world's oceans are undergoing significant changes. Waters acidify and temperatures are rising rapidly. Marine life responds to these changes by seeking new migration routes and new waters to inhabit. For people whose lives are shaped by their relations with these marine creatures, such transformations may have important consequences. The SEATIMES project aims to investigate these changes and asks how climate change transforms the relations people have with marine life. In order to understand better how human-marine relations operate and transform, SEATIMES suggests that we must look beyond those relations where humans relate to marine life as economic resources. SEATIME therefore looks rather at the temporal aspects of human-marine relations by asking: 1. How do changes in human-marine relations impact people’s relations to the past, their experience of the presence and their imaginations of the future? 2. How do society’s rhythms change as the seasonal variations of marine life and the everyday work patterns related to them change? 3. How do people respond by attempting to stop, slow down, restore or otherwise intervene in these changes? In order to understand the varieties of transformations in human-marine relations around the world, SEATIMES will focus on three specific cases. In Senegal, we will investigate the disappearance of the important sardinella fish. In Maine, US, we will look at how warming waters causes massive catches of lobsters. In Norway, we study how new species such as snow crab and Pacific oysters poses both challenges and opportunities. Through these cases, we expect SEATIMES to develop a new marine anthropology that provides a broader and better understanding of how humans and marine life are interrelated and how climate change causes transformations in these interrelations.

What happens to relations between humans and marine life when climate change forces the latter to flee and seek new waters to inhabit? Climate change is currently heating up the world's oceans, and marine life are forced to seek new waters better suited to their needs. For many coastal communities, this means that their close relations with fish and other marine species change considerably and impact their imaginations of the past, their hopes for the future and the very rhythms of their daily lives. The SEATIMES project aims to study these changes and asks what they can tell us about how humans are entangled with marine life and about how temporality emerges from such human-marine relations. The project will answer these questions by conducting ethnographic fieldwork and applying marine biological data in three different sites that experience these changes differently: in Senegal, from where the important sardinella stock departs; in Maine, US, where lobsters thrive be heated waters, but is also threatened by future overheating; and in Norway where warming waters attract new species such as Snow crab and Pacific oyster, some of which are welcomed, while others are seen as a potential threat. By comparing data from these different sites where human-marine relations are transformed in different ways and where different species are involved, the project will provide data on a broad spectrum of transformations in human-marine relations. Drawing on recent developments in posthumanist and multispecies anthropology, SEATIMES aims to develop a new posthumanist marine anthropology that is better able to account for how humans and marine life are entangled and how these entanglements are transformed by climate change.


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