Ocean Legalities: The Law and Life of the Sea

Workshop: February 23 & 24, 2017

Location: 509 O'Brian Hall, UB North Campus

Contact: Irus Braverman, irusb@buffalo.edu

February 23 and 24, 2017, join us for a two-day workshop that examines the limits of legal frameworks rooted in humanistic and terrestrial assumptions. The event brings together legal scholars, geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, environmental scholars, and historians to expose the biopolitical hierarchies naturalized through modes of classification and operation by exploring a new subject of inquiry: ocean legalities.

The collaborative work demonstrates how the unique material and symbolic dynamics of the sea—and the life within it—force us to question our systems of governance, our modes of regulation, and our administration of conservation regimes.

Workshop Synopsis: Whether written from an animal rights, animal welfare, or environmental law perspective, existing legal scholarship on nonhumans typically values organisms that are “big like us”—large, terrestrial, and vertebrate. Legal scholarship overlooks and is often challenged by forms and mediums of life radically unlike our own. Our work problematizes these tendencies, exposing the biopolitical hierarchies naturalized through their modes of classification and operation by exploring a new subject of inquiry: ocean legalities.

Ocean Legalities is situated at the nexus of environmental and animal law, posthumanism, animal geography, science and technology studies, multispecies ethnography, and Foucauldian biopolitics. Ocean Legalities explores how the seas confound the cultural, historical, and linguistic structures upon which our regulatory apparatuses rest. In doing so, the text shows that marine matter and marine life requires alternative legal imaginaries and forms of governance in our rapidly changing environments.

Workshop Organizers

Irus Braverman, Professor, William J. Magavern Faculty Scholar, University at Buffalo School of Law

Elizabeth R. Johnson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

The workshop is sponsored by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.