Call for Papers : Oceans as Archives Conference

4-6 July, 2022

University of Amsterdam– The Netherlands

Organizers: Mikki Stelder (University of Amsterdam), Renisa Mawani (University of British Columbia), Kristie Flannery (Australian Catholic University)


After an illuminating Oceans as Archives symposium in May 2021 held at the University of British Columbia on the Traditional, Ancestral, Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Territory (for more information click here), Oceans as Archives is returning for a second conference to be held at the University of Amsterdam from 4-6 July, 2022. We invite proposals from scholars, poets, artists, and activists to present new work that explores the ocean as a living, breathing, thinking, moving, life-sustaining and life-taking force. 

Oceans undermine existing navigational, resource and legal infrastructures that seek to harness the sea in the folds of capitalist modernity. Whereas European colonial and capitalist epistemologies separated the ocean from the land and designated the ocean as a highway for capitalism and an extractable resource, many non-Eurocentric critical traditions resist such distinctions, recognizing oceans as key to sustaining all life. Oceans and the relations it has generated through force, violence, care, ancestral belonging and spirituality have been central to Black diaspora, critical Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Caribbean, postcolonial, decolonial, and anticolonial thought. Drawing from these traditions, we approach oceans as archives that encourage new frameworks and methodologies for understanding capitalist, legal, imperialist, racial, environmental and (settler) colonial violence across Eurocentric geographical and temporal divides (Mawani 2018), while at the same time disrupting the Eurocentric spatio-temporalities of empire. 

Where Lisa Lowe (2015) brought attention to the “intimacies of four continents” as colonization and resistance made landfall, this symposium creates a space to explore and reflect on how thinking with oceans demands different imaginaries of thought and praxis that understands the ocean in relation. 

We envision a conversation that broaches what it means to think of oceans not as spaces in-between continents, but as foundational domains where colonial conquest, violence, resistance, and subversion plays on different scales, both past and present. How does such a reorientation force us to question the livingness of the sea, and its role in disrupting white superiority and species supremacy that was, and continues to be, crucial to the pursuits of European empires?

We welcome proposals for individual papers, roundtable conversations, poetry readings, visual art, performances, and curated panel discussions. There will be opportunities for works presented at the conference to be published in an anthology. 

Please submit your name, brief biography (100 words), title, abstract (250 words), and working bibliography by January 20, 2022 to

We hope to offer financial assistance for untenured scholars, activists and artists on precarious (non)contracts to facilitate their participation. Please specify in your submission why you might qualify for such assistance and the funding you will need to attend this conference. If you are tenured and you would like to contribute to assisting your untenured colleagues in presenting their work through a financial donation, please let us know in your submission.

The conference is made possible through the generous support of The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis; The Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis; The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture; the European Commission; the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies; and the Faculty of Arts, University of British Columbia.

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