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Panel 10: The Pacific Ocean as a new frontier?


Elodie Fache, Pierre-Yves Le Meur, Estienne Rodary

Session presentation

Throughout the 20th century, the concept of “frontier” was used to highlight various aspects of colonial processes and encounters in different parts of the world. It has also been mobilised to describe social and political dynamics in Africa in both precolonial and contemporary contexts (Kopytoff 1987, Chauveau et al. 2004). Our panel aims to examine whether this concept can be heuristically used to analyze the new rush for resources that is taking place in the Pacific Ocean and its effects on the governance of this political space. The expansion of industrial fishing activities, oil and mineral offshore explorations, and large-scale marine protected areas in this ocean occur in a shifting environmental and political context. Here the legacy of late colonialism, the interplay of multi-level powers, indigenous claims, juridification processes, and the conflictual dialectic between extraction and conservation collude to shape the “last conservation frontier on Earth” (Gjerde et al. 2016) simultaneously experienced as an “Ocean in us” (Hau‘ofa 1998). Through its focus on “frontier”, the panel invites participants to propose original, long-term and cross-disciplinary approaches of these current reconfigurations of/in the Pacific Ocean.

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