Oceans and seas are all around us. For starters, 70% of the earth’s surface consists of bodies of water. Moreover, 96% of trade (on average) is carried by ship, across the liquid voids that separate land masses. In effect, that means that the majority of items we own, clothes we wear, goods we use on a day-to-day basis, will have been touched by the seas and oceans that often seem so distanced from us. For those who live close to the sea, its impact is all the more obvious through storm surges, flooding, coastal erosion and management schemes put in place to dampen the effects of the seas and oceans on the land and its populations. Nonetheless, in spite of the pervasiveness of the oceans and seas to our everyday lives, in obvious and not so obvious ways, Geography has been a traditionally land-locked discipline. Scholars studying both human and physical processes have looked inwards to land, rather than outwards to sea as a source of inspiration for their research. Yet the omission of seas and oceans from geographical enquiry has meant that a vast portion of our planet has escaped study. The word ‘Geography’, translates as ‘earth-writing’. If ‘earth-writing’ is taken to refer to writing about the planet as a whole, then two-thirds of the narrative is missing if the seas and oceans are not included.
I am a human geographer interested in thinking spatially about the socio-cultural, political, legal, economic and environmental relations we have with seas and oceans. I am particularly interested with the governance of marine and maritime worlds. I currently work at the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) developing the social science dimensions of understanding our changing water worlds. I also hold an Honorary Research Associate position at the University of Liverpool, where I was a Reader in Human Geography, working in the area of maritime geographies.
This website charts some of my recent research which aims to move geography beyond its land-bias and out to the open ocean. It also tells you about my wider research interests which are focused on other non-landed spaces – the air, outer space and beyond.
You can find out more about me on the pages to follow, including projects, writing, talks and teaching. You can also contact me here. Information about some of my major work is below.
New book! The Routledge Handbook of Ocean Space
This new handbook brings together the key debates shaping socio-spatial studies of the sea, in one volume, for a wide, cross-disciplinary social science and humanities audience. Drawing on a range of international examples, from a global collective of authors, this book promises to be the benchmark publication for those interested in ocean spaces, past and present.
Through six wide-ranging sections, The Routledge Handbook of Ocean Space examines and interrogates how the oceans are environmental, historical, social, cultural, political, legal and economic spaces, and also zones where national and international security comes into question. With a foreword and introduction authored by some of the leading scholars researching and writing about ocean spaces, alongside 31 further chapters from established as well as early career academics, this book provides both an accessible guide to the subject and a cutting-edge collection of critical ideas and questions shaping the social sciences today.
Water Worlds: Human Geographies of the Ocean
My first book, co-edited with Jon Anderson is available here. This book brings together twelve chapters by authors centralising the place of seas and oceans in their research.
This terrific book examines many elements of watery worlds, both historically and in the present. This is a very good example of how a new area of thinking and research can be brought into being through a carefully edited single book. It deserves a wide readership. John Urry, Lancaster University, UK.
In this smart collection of essays, human geographers and others are (re)introduced to the watery parts of the globe. If human geographers, and social scientists in general, have been largely neglectful of seas and oceans then this is a brilliant corrective which does some of the necessary catching up. Here the sea becomes a space of both control and rebellion, a material entity as well as a space of representation and practice. It sets an inspiring agenda for further research as it goes some way to filling in the blank space of the sea. Tim Cresswell, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Your Human Geography Dissertation: Designing, Doing and Delivering
My textbook offers a concise, flexible guide which supports undergraduate geography students through the stressful dissertation process. Divided into three sections – Designing, Doing and Delivering – it is a complete overview of the key skills needed to prepare, research, and write a successful dissertation. It can be ordered here and there is also a companion website to support student learning.
Of all the books that I recommend to my dissertation students, this book is always the first. Your Human Geography Dissertation guides students through all the stages of their dissertation, helping them to think geographically, refine their research question and choose the appropriate research methods. This book is so recent but already feels like a classic. Dr Filippo Menga, University of Reading, UK.
This book will be an invaluable read for all Human Geography dissertation students. It conveys the excitement and possibilities of Human Geography research, whilst also alerting the reader to its challenges and pitfalls. This is certainly not a generic ‘how to do your dissertation’ textbook; instead it engages with Human Geography as a discipline and the role of the dissertation student as a producer of geographic knowledge. The book’s clear sections on designing, doing and delivering your dissertation, have useful examples, include input from the author’s students themselves, making this an accessible and comprehensive text. Professor Katie Willis, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.
Territory beyond Terra
At the root of our understanding of territory is the concept of terra—land—a surface of fixed points with stable features that can be calculated, categorised, and controlled. But what of the many spaces on Earth that defy this simplistic characterisation: Oceans in which ‘places’ are continuously re-formed? Air that can never be fully contained? Watercourses that obtain their value by transcending boundaries? This book, edited with Philip Steinberg and Elaine Stratford, examines the politics of these spaces to shed light on the challenges of our increasingly dynamic world. An associated discussion about the text, by contributors, is available here.
How do air, water, fire, and earth interact with each other and with contemporary human political imagination around parcelling of space? Various scholars in this interesting collection engage with this question using radical and eclectic theoretical, philosophical and empirical resources and make an important contribution in challenging the land-centrism of dominant academic approaches to territory. Territory will never feel the same after reading this book. Professor Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster, UK.
In a time and space marked indelibly by anthropogenic impact, Territory Beyond Terra offers new maps to comprehend our changing worlds. This fine book shows the intimate links between natural elements, geo-physical manifestations, and geopolitical power. It offers ways to understand the politics of the geo, but also shows how new politics can be shaped through and with the geo. Dr Sara Fregonese, University of Birmingham, UK.
Sound, Space and Society: Rebel Radio
In 1964, rebel radio stations took to the seas in converted ships to offer listening choice to a young, resistant audience, against a backdrop of restrictive broadcasting policies. This book draws on this exceptional moment in social history, and the decades that followed, teasing out the relations between sound, society and space that were central to ‘pirate’ broadcasting activities. This book breaks new ground, discussing in-depth the relationship between radio, space and society; considering how space matters in the production, consumption and regulation of audio transmission, through the geophysical spaces of sea, land and air.
Building on her previous theorizations of the political geographies of the sea, Peters outlines why the geographical study of radio must think through the materiality of the different elements –air, aether, land and sea – that shape the production, consumption, and regulation of radio broadcasts. This beautiful and engaging book explores how the anchoring of Radio Caroline at sea, outside British territorial waters, not only exploited a succession of loopholes in the geopolitical regulation of broadcasting, but shaped the audible quality of its broadcasts and the affective atmospheres in which its audience became enrolled and called to action in defence of ‘rebel radio’. Professor Gavin Brown, University of Leicester, UK.
Living with the Seas: Knowledge, Awareness, Action
The seas and oceans are currently taking centre stage. From the plastics littering our seas, to the role of climate change on ocean currents, from unequal access of marine resources to the treacherous experiences of seafarers who keep our global economy afloat; now is a crucial time to examine how we live with the sea. Yet there is a significant gap concerning the ways in which we engage with seas and oceans, with a will to enliven action and evoke change. Working with Mike Brown, this book explores these challenges, offering insights from planning, architectural design, geography, education, anthropology and cultural studies. Through these lenses we can better understand human relationships with the seas and oceans, and promote an ethic of care for the future.
The Mobilities of Ships
This book, emerging from a Special Issue in the journal Mobilities and co-edited with Anyaa Anim-Addo and William Hasty turns our attention to the manifold mobilities that occur at sea through an exploration of the mobilities of ships themselves as well as the movements of objects, subjects and ideas that are mobilised by ships. The Mobilities of Ships brings together seven chapters that tack through unexplored waters and move between diverse case studies, including pirate ships, naval vessels and luxury yachts. In so doing, The Mobilities of Ships offers a rich insight into the world of shipping mobilities past and present.
Carceral Mobilities: Interrogating Movement in Incarceration
Co-edited with Jennifer Turner, this text challenges the assumption that carceral life is characterised by a lack of movement. Building from our co-authored work on prison ships, this book – Carceral Mobilities – brings together contributions that speak to contemporary debates across carceral studies and mobilities research, offering fresh insights to both areas by identifying and unpicking the manifold mobilities that shape, and are shaped by, carceral regimes. It features four sections that move the reader through the varying typologies of motion underscoring carceral life: tension; circulation; distribution; and transition. Each mobilities-led section seeks to explore the politics encapsulated in specific regimes of carceral movement.