Manipulating material hydro-worlds: rethinking human and more-than-human relationality through offshore radio piracy
Abstract: Lambert et al state that emerging geographical studies of social and cultural worlds at sea should take into account the currents, textures, and more-than-human elements of the oceans. In spite of this call there has been little work which seriously considers the physical, more-than-human geography of the sea—its very materiality—and how it comes into play with social and cultural life. This paper draws on the watery excursions of Radio Caroline’s pop-pirate broadcasting ships, examining the ways in which the materiality of the sea as a ‘hydro’ state (that is, motionful, deep, and dynamic), has agency; resulting in a variety of visceral affects for those at sea, and also for those listening to the station’s transmissions back on dry land. The paper begins by examining the strategic locations of the pop-pirate vessels whilst at sea to manipulate the motionful impact of the ocean and how, in turn, the depth and dynamism of the sea were harnessed to create unique audio experiences for those listening. The paper then continues to explore the ways in which, even with such manipulations and harnessing, crew members sometimes had little control of their situation; resulting in disorientation and confusion as the power of the sea immersed them. Through these two sections it is contended that the specific quality of the sea opens up new relational understandings between the human and more-than-human worlds. Humans cannot assert influence back onto the materiality of the sea as they might the earth, and therefore must negotiate the force of the ocean through forms of strategy and management; manipulations of materiality and affect, forming new cocomposed relations. It is concluded that further studies, both in more-than-human geographies and within the discipline more widely, of the sea’s inordinate agency and wider web of extraterrestrial relations are required in order to take seriously the often forgotten 70% of the Earth’s surface which is ocean. Keywords: affect, cocomposition, manipulation, materiality, relationality, sea
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