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Blue Planet, Black Lives: Matter, Memory, and the Temporalities of Political Geography

Steinberg, Philip



This article considers how the ontological challenges posed by the ocean's materiality and the porous boundaries of marine ecologies and economies aligns with scholarship emanating from Black and Caribbean thought to rethink the linear histories and unitary identities that underpin modernist narratives. Focusing on the debate in Bristol, England in 2020 and 2021 concerning the disposition of the toppled statue of slave trader Edward Colston, the article engages postcolonial Caribbean theory and art to problematise the linear temporalities associated with solid land and the singular histories that are narrated through fixed memorialisations. As an alternative, the temporality of the ocean is called upon, because of its specific role in the histories of Colston, Bristol, and British imperialism, but also because of the ways in which oceanic ontologies complicate accepted divisions between past, present, and future, between scales of experience and explanation, between rootedness and connection, and between life and death.


Steinberg, P. (2022). Blue Planet, Black Lives: Matter, Memory, and the Temporalities of Political Geography. Political Geography, 96, Article 102524.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 10, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 12, 2021
Publication Date 2022-06
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2023
Journal Political Geography
Print ISSN 0962-6298
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 96
Article Number 102524
Public URL


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