Assembling scholars across multiple orientations – from legal studies, geography, anthropology, cultural and political theory, the environmental humanities, and ocean studies – this book connects law to the broader humanities in order to critically engage contemporary concerns with the fate of the ocean.

Although the United Nations’ monumental ‘Convention on the Law of the Sea’ imagines an all-encompassing constitutional framework for governing the ocean, this collection, Laws of the Sea, approaches law in plural ways, applying the insights that have emerged within various disciplines to consider the possibilities of a critical ocean approach in legal studies. The collection is comprised of twelve chapters that utilize a diverse set of methodological tools to explore a range of intersecting sites: from hydrothermal vents, through the continental shelf and marine genetic resources, to coastal communities in areas including France, Sweden, Florida, and Indonesia. Confronting the longstanding binary of land and sea, these chapters pose a fundamental challenge to law’s terracentrism, and its pervasive influence on juridical modes of knowing and making the world. Together, they ask: is contemporary Eurocentric law – and international law in particular – capable of moving away from its capitalist and colonial legacies, established through myriad oceanic abstractions and classifications, toward more amphibious legalities?

This collection will appeal to sociolegal, international, and environmental law scholars, as well as geographers and anthropologists, cultural and political theorists, and those working in environmental history, political ecology, and animal studies.


"Amphibious Legal Geographies: Toward Land-Sea Regimes"

Irus Braverman

Chapter 1

"The Vexed Liminality of Hydrothermal Vents: An Opportunity to Unmake the Law of the Sea"

Surabhi Ranganathan

Chapter 2

"The Legal Production of the Oceans: The North Sea Continental Shelf Cases Revisited"

Henry Jones

Chapter 3

"Imagining Justice with the Abyssal Ocean"

Susan Reid

Chapter 4

"Genetic Freedom of the Seas in the Age of Extractivism: Marine Genetic Resources in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction"

Irus Braverman

Chapter 5

"Oceanic Heterolegalities? Ocean Commons and the Heterotopias of Sovereign Legality"

Vito De Lucia

Chapter 6

"Mining the Seas: Speculative Fictions and Futures"

Elizabeth DeLoughrey

Chapter 7

"Navigating the Structural Coherence of Sea Ice"

Philip Steinberg, Greta Ferloni, Claudio Aporta, Gavin Bridge, Aldo Chircop, Kate Coddington, Stuart Elden, Stephanie C. Kane, Timo Koivurova, Jessica Shadian, and Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Chapter 8

"UNCLOS as a Geopolitical Chokepoint: Locked Down, Locked In, Locked Out"

Elspeth Probyn

Chapter 9

"From River Urbanization to Ocean Gentrification: Miami’s River Port and the Precarious Geographies of Haitian Breakbulk Shipping"

Jeffrey S. Kahn

Chapter 10

"Miles and Norms in the Fishery of Marseille: On the Interface between Social Norms and Legal Rules"

Florian Grisel

Chapter 11

"Divided Environments: Scalar Challenges in Sweden’s Marine and Coastal Water Planning"

Aron Westholm

Chapter 12

"Good Human-Turtle Relationships in Indonesia: Exploring Intersecting Legalities in Sea Turtle Conservation"

Annet Pauwelussen & Shannon Switzer Swanson


"We Are All Complicit: Performing Law through Wavewriting"

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos