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Dossiers
Authors
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
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      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
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  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
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      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
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      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
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      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
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      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
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      published contributions
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
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      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
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      published contributions
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
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      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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      published contributions
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Brian Larkin
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
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      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
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      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
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      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
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      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
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  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
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      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
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      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
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      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
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      published contributions
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
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  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
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      published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
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  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
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      published contributions
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
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      published contributions
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
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      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
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China’s “Blue Territory” and the Technosphere in Maritime East Asia

Beyond the contentious geopolitical edifice of the South China Sea lies a mosaic of technological and ecological manipulations of land and sea interfaces that define how the area’s many contests are negotiated. Political scientist Andrew Chubb maps this complex space, tying together security, land rights, information technology, historical geopolitics, and the creation of artificial islands that construct it.
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China Dream: “Paracel Archipelago – Woody Island future development.” Tiexue BBS.

Human techno-political challenges to the land‒sea divide are perhaps nowhere more apparent than in maritime East Asia. Here, the concept of “blue territory” displaces the maritime commons, while underwater reef ecologies are transformed into gleaming military outposts, and satellite communications advance land-based claims to sovereign jurisdiction over once-ungoverned waters. This article will examine how the expansion of legal, logistical, and informational technologies have problematized the very distinction between land and sea in the world’s most contested maritime spaces.
TERRITORIALIZATION OF THE OCEANS
In July 2016, an international tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) handed down its ruling in an arbitration requested by the Philippines over China’s actions in the South China Sea. Alongside a meticulous catalogue of Beijing’s breaches of the Convention, the ruling’s key significance was to set stringent criteria for establishing a maritime land feature’s legal status as an “island” entitled to expansive jurisdictional rights over the surrounding waters. On the surface, the legal landmark sharply circumscribed the potential scope of sovereign claims over maritime space. But it also highlighted the paradoxical territorialization of maritime space under the “global constitution for the world’s oceans.” Throughout the twentieth century, while international law gradually was chipping away at state authority over the earth’s landmasses, precisely the opposite was occurring at sea. In Bernard Oxman’s memorable terms, the “territorial temptation” of the world’s nation-states “thrust seaward with a speed and geographic scope that would be the envy of the most ambitious conquerors in human history."Bernard Oxman, “The Territorial Temptation: A Siren Song at Sea,” American Journal of International Law, vol. 100, no. 4 (2006), p. 832.
The displacement of the doctrine of mare liberum, defended in recent centuries by successive maritime hegemons, began with United States President Harry Truman’s assertion of sovereign rights on its “continental shelf” in 1945. Far from objecting to this unprecedented, unilateral expansion of state jurisdiction at sea, other major maritime powers quickly emulated it. Behind this sudden, breezy betrayal of the long-treasured “free seas” lay the prospect of hydrocarbon exploitation made possible by new offshore drilling and extraction techniques. In the first Law of the Sea Convention signed in 1958 the state parties agreed – absurdly in hindsight – to grant each other exclusive rights to the seabed out to whatever distance “admits of the exploitation of the natural resources.United Nations, “Convention on the Continental Shelf, 1958,” (http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/8_1_1958_continental_shelf.pdf).
Under this formulation, the extent of sovereign claims to seabed resources was limited only by the rapidly developing oil and gas extraction technology.
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The UNCLOS opens for signature, Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1982. UN 1982.

The UNCLOS concluded in 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica, is the defining expression of the territorialization of maritime space. Although the 107 state governments sensibly agreed to limit the previously infinite continental shelf claims to 650 kilometers, they also assigned themselves and each other sovereign authority not just over the seabed, but also the resources of the water column out to 370 kilometers from the homeland’s nearest basepoint, including islands. In so doing, they subjected nearly 50 per cent of the world’s oceans to land-based claims of state jurisdiction. Other governments were understandably eager to join the regime, and today 157 nation-states are parties to the UNCLOS. This carve-up of half the planet’s oceans was not simply a naked grab for power and oil; other goals of the process included allotting responsibilities for environmental protection and avoiding “tragedies of the commons” through orderly, regulated exploitation. This may have been the tradeoff that induced civil societies to agree to such an enormous expansion in state authority.Oxman, “Territorial Temptation,” pp. 844‒45.
However, beyond the prospect of international legal opprobrium of the kind suffered by China following the 2016 arbitration, states’ responsibilities under the Convention lack an effective means of enforcement. The new sovereign maritime rights, by contrast, faced no such issues, for every state party stood ready to enforce those. Indeed, as Oxman notes, they were quickly understood in “quasi-territorial terms.Oxman, “Territorial temptation,” pp. 839‒40.
This was nowhere more so than in China, where areas subject to its resource rights claims came to be regarded as “blue territory.”

CHINA’S “BLUE TERRITORY” CONCEPT
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) – presumptive successor to a dozen great continental empires – took some time to recognize the new opportunities and challenges presented by the carve-up of the world’s oceans. By 1996, however, when it ratified the Convention after a fourteen-year delay, PRC maritime agencies had become acutely aware of the “gradual territorialization” (逐步国土化) of vast expanses of ocean that was by now in full swing.See Chapter 1 of China’s Maritime Agenda for the 21st Century, a programmatic document released immediately prior to its ratification of the Convention. Zhongguo Haiyang 21 Shiji Yicheng (China’s Maritime Agenda for the 21st Century). Beijing: State Oceanic Administration (SOA), March 1996 (http://sdinfo.coi.gov.cn/hyfg/hyfgdb/fg8.htm) (accessed December 1, 2016). The PRC appears to have viewed the territorialization process in generally positive terms at that time. Indeed, so sanguine were the Agenda’s authors that they even described UNCLOS as “beneficial to breaking maritime hegemonism” – a glowing accolade within the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideological system. See China’s Maritime Agenda, Chapter 10.
China’s ratification of the regime in May 1996 set in motion a succession of technical and policy responses that have imposed legal, organizational, and physical layers of land-based rule over the disputed South and East China Seas.

The chain of Chinese policy reactions began with the enactment of a variety of new legal instruments – notably the 1998 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] and the Continental Shelf – that gave unprecedentedly specific, concrete form to China’s claimed sovereign rights at sea. As Isaac Kardon notes, this burgeoning body of maritime laws, regulations, and ordinances was crucial in “processing the various new rights and interests created by China's accession to UNCLOS.See Isaac Kardon, “China’s Maritime Rights and Interests: Organizing to become a Maritime Power,” paper presented at the China as a Maritime Power Conference, Center for Naval Analyses, Washington, DC, July 28‒29, 2015 (https://www.cna.org/cna_files/pdf/china-maritime-rights.pdf).
By the turn of the century, these sweeping, once-amorphous claims were rapidly hardening into a concept of “blue territory.” As the Minister of Land and Resources Zhou Yongkang stated in a 1999 speech:

[…] according to UNCLOS and our country’s claims, we possess around 3 million square kilometres of waters under administration. Of course, there is a significant area that is in dispute, which is to say, there is a long way to go and much difficult work to be done to genuinely roll out our maritime undertakings over 3 million square kilometres of blue territory.Zhou Yongkang’s speech is printed in the State Oceanic Administration’s (SOA), Zhongguo Haiyang Nianjian (China Ocean Yearbook) 1999‒2000. Beijing: Haiyang Chubanshe, 2000, pp. 10‒11. Hereafter ZGHYNJ.
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The “blue territory”: Chinese bomber aircraft patrols above disputed Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea, May 2016. PLAAF 2016.

China’s claims to islands in the South China Sea had been manifest in the now-infamous nine-dash line map since the 1940s. But the map, titled Location Map of Various Islands in the South China Sea (南海诸岛位置图), contained no hint of any claims to particular maritime spaces – let alone the entire area enclosed by the line. The UNCLOS offers no support for such an expansive reading of the line; indeed the arbitral tribunal emphasized just the opposite. Yet, ironically, the increasingly territorialized quality of China’s maritime claims – and its approach to prosecuting them – is very much a product of the UNCLOS era.
The UNCLOS-inspired reification of China’s maritime claims into domestic legal instruments prompted the creation of new law enforcement organizations. This in turn produced new technologies of enforcement that have redefined the rules of disputes at sea, at least in maritime Asia. The China Marine Surveillance (CMS) force, established in 1999, was given the task of rolling out “comprehensive administration” in all areas subject to PRC jurisdictional claims. Major allocations of central funds in 2000 equipped the new agency with a fleet of large long-range, high-endurance – but largely unarmed – oceangoing patrol boats and aircraft.
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The first “dashed-line” map: Location Map of Various Islands in the South China Sea, published by the Republic of China in 1947.

These systems for achieving a constant patrol presence, greater maritime domain awareness, and the necessary personnel and logistical support, took several years to develop. But by 2006 the agency was ready to launch its “regular maritime rights defense patrols” across disputed areas.Initially the system was introduced in the East China Sea in June 2006. Once its feasibility had been proven there, the CMS extended the scope to cover the Yellow Sea and the northern part of the South China Sea from February 2007. Nine months later, this was expanded again to include the southern part of the South China Sea. Thus, by December 2007, the regular patrol system theoretically covered all of “the 3 million square kilometres of waters under China’s administration.” See Qian Xiuli, “Woguo jianli quan haiyu weiquan xunhang zhidu, 300 wan pingfang gongli guanxia haiyu naru dingqi weiquan xunhang zhidu guanli fanwei (China establishes rights defense patrol system for all waters, 3 million sq km of administrative waters brought into administrative scope of regular rights defense patrol system),” Zhongguo Haiyang Bao (China Ocean Daily), August 5, 2008 (http://www.oceanol.com/redian/kuaixun/2226.html).
Such technologically advanced, white-hulled fleets have become central to the competition over maritime space in Asia, with China’s rivals rushing to upgrade their own coastguards, on-water law enforcement authorities, and maritime surveillance systems. These mobile outgrowths of the technosphere are redefining the terms of competition over the seas – away from access, and towards occupation and control. In this way, twenty-first-century maritime disputes have increasingly come to resemble terrestrial disputes over (sparsely populated) land areas.
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China’s gargantuan HYSY-981 oil rig, described by China National Offshore Oil Company CEO Wang Yilin as “mobile national territory.” Xinhua 2010.

Technology has also reconfigured the role of paramilitary law enforcement at sea. Far from maritime safety and fighting crime against specific targets like smugglers, maritime law enforcement is now increasingly geared towards the performance of sovereignty. The potential implications of China’s “Great White Fleet” in advancing its unilateral administration of disputed maritime spaces started to become clear to outside observers by the start of the 2010s.Ryan Martinson, "Here comes China's great white fleet," The National Interest, October 1, 2014 (http://nationalinterest.org/feature/here-comes-china%E2%80%99s-great-white-fleet-11383). The white-hulled strategy appears to have come to the attention of the US government in around 2010, judging by its debut appearance in the 2011 edition of the Pentagon’s Annual Report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2011, p. 60 (https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2011_CMPR_Final.pdf).
But their effect is even more profound when viewed from Beijing, where key policymakers operate – rightly or wrongly – on an assumption that principles of prescriptive acquisition apply to the sea, as they traditionally have done on land.On prescription in territorial acquisition, see Surya Prakesh Sharma, Territorial Acquisition, Disputes and International Law. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1997, pp. 108‒15; Brian Taylor Sumner, “Territorial disputes at the International Court of Justice,” Duke Law Journal, vol. 53 (April 2004), pp. 1787‒88.
As China rolled out its regularized patrol system using the CMS force in 2008, its party boss Sun Shuxian asserted that there are just two principles regarding the existence of state authority in disputed waters: one is “effective administration” (有效管理), the other “actual control” (实际控制). Without these, Sun said, there was little point in claiming that the area was in question.Yu Wei, “Zhongguo Haijian youwang cheng haijun yubeiyi budui (CMS may become naval reserve force),” Nanfang Dushibao (Southern Metropolis Daily), October 20, 2008, AA16 (http://lt.cjdby.net/thread-542012-1-1.html).
From this perspective, the activities of all civil technologies – not only patrol boats, but also fishing trawlers, oil rigs, and even cellphone signals and weather reports – are not merely asserting the state’s presence, advancing the national economy, addressing its energy security, or carrying its communications. Rather, they are seen as performatively creating state sovereignty at sea.SOA, ZGHYNJ 2010, p. 127. The CMS East Sea Branch’s entry to the 2006 yearbook refers to a centrally approved guideline (中央批准的方针) of “display jurisdiction and embody China’s sovereign rights” in contested waters. SOA, ZGHYNJ 2006, p. 164. The previous year’s entry states, “The principles of ‘highlight presence, ensure safety, manifest our sovereign rights and administration of these waters’ were effectively implemented, and powerfully supported and complemented our government's diplomatic actions.” SOA, ZGHYNJ 2005, p. 193.

MANUFACTURING LAND, LEVERAGING THE HEAVENS
It is hard to imagine a more vivid illustration of the technosphere’s role in altering the boundaries between land and sea than China’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago. Over the course of approximately eighteen months, using dozens of industrial dredgers and coral-cutting machines, the PLA turned seven tiny reef outposts into bases larger than any of the natural landmasses in the area. In all, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), they managed to transform nearly 1,300 hectares of the world’s most contested maritime space into new territories that now host small cities, with three airfields, dozens of buildings, roads, parks, leisure facilities and, based on recent satellite photography, silos ready to take surface-to-air missile deployments.“A look at China’s SAM shelters in the Spratlys,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, February 23, 2017 (https://amti.csis.org/chinas-sam-shelters-spratlys/).
China was not the first country to reclaim land in the Spratlys. But the speed and scale of the sea-to-land conversion was unprecedented.Over the years, Vietnam is believed to have expanded its Spratly outposts by just under 50 hectares, Malaysia around 30 hectares, and the Philippines and Taiwan around 4‒6 hectares each.
This, in turn, was a direct function of China’s economic, industrial, logistical and, above all, technological capabilities.See Andrew Erickson and Kevin Bond, “Dredging Under the Radar: China Expands South Sea Foothold,” The National Interest, August 26, 2015 (http://nationalinterest.org/feature/dredging-under-the-radar-china-expands-south-sea-foothold-13701?page=show).


China’s desire to “fill in the sea to manufacture land” (填海造地) on this industrial scale reflects its latecomer status in the Spratly Islands. The Spratlys are by far the largest of the South China Sea’s disputed archipelagos. Unlike the claims to maritime spaces discussed above, which are largely the product of the UNCLOS era, China’s claims to these island territories were inherited from the PRC’s vanquished civil war rival, the Republic of China, which fled to Taiwan in 1949. When a scramble to occupy the islands began in the late 1960s, Mao’s China was preoccupied with the Cultural Revolution, Soviet threats to the northern land border, and rapprochement with America. As a result, the few ships the PLA possessed remained thousands of kilometers away while the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia staked out all of the dozen or so genuine islands in the Spratly group. By the time the PLA Navy finally made its move on the Spratlys in late 1987, all the prime real estate was occupied, and it took a fierce naval skirmish with Vietnam just to establish a tenuous foothold on six submerged reefs. Through the 1990s and 2000s, China consolidated its outposts from rickety huts on stilts, to slightly more solid-looking pillboxes, and then to a third generation of “reef forts,” before the island construction began in 2013. These shallow patches of ocean – to the naked eye often virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding azure (as many shipwrecked navigators discovered) – concealed complex and spectacular underwater coral ecologies. Marine biologists believe the land-based military and civilian presence of all sides – particularly horizontal expansions of the technosphere like infrastructure development – has been adversely impacting the surrounding marine ecology beneath the waves for some time.Terry Hughes, Hui Huang, and Matthew Young, “The Wicked Problem of China’s Disappearing Coral Reefs,” Conservation Biology, vol. 27, no. 2 (2013), pp. 261‒69; Dune Lawrence and Wenxin Fan, “Islands of Mass Destruction,” Bloomberg, December 25, 2016 (http://thestandard.com.ph/opinion/columns/225000/islands-of-mass-destruction.html).
But the recent island-building project is unique for having transformed entire marine ecosystems into sandy mid-ocean deserts.
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Earlier generations of Chinese structures on Mischief Reef. Philippines Government 1995, 2005, 2012.

Vertical extensions of the technosphere have also contributed to the blurring of the political status of land and sea.See Johan Gärdebo, “Technosphere Verticality,” Technosphere Magazine, November 2016 (http://www.technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/article1/e93d92c0-9eb3-11e6-87f4-45da4d91e2c2/5f112fd0-914d-11e6-bb8e-515155f3fd55).
In the Spratlys, Vietnam and China operate rival cellphone networks; China’s reportedly sends automatic “Welcome to China!” text messages to every handset that comes within range.Lawrence and Fan, “Islands of Mass Destruction.”
Once again, as with the 1958 continental shelf agreement, sovereign claims extend precisely as far as the technosphere will carry them. But the single most consequential example of the technosphere’s role in territorializing Asia’s maritime spaces occurred in the Scarborough Shoal incident of April 2012. On the morning of April 10, 2012, the Philippines’ naval ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar arrived at Scarborough Shoal, an isolated atoll around 125 nautical miles off the northern coast of Luzon, to investigate a group of Chinese fishing boats spotted two days earlier by an aerial patrol. After the warship anchored outside the entrance to the sprawling lagoon, it dispatched armed soldiers on dinghies to investigate.Award in the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, Permanent Court of Arbitration case no. 2013-19, July 12, 2016, 325 (http://www.pcacases.com/web/view/7).
After collecting photographic evidence of large quantities of endangered giant clams and corals on board the Chinese fishing boats, the Philippine soldiers returned to the ship, apparently with the intention of detaining and processing the crews the following day. However, late in the afternoon, two CMS patrol boats arrived and took up positions between the Gregorio del Pilar and the fishing boats, physically preventing their arrest.For a blow-by-blow account from fisherman Chen Zebo (陳則波) see Zeng Ming, “Hainan yumin: qu Huangyan Dao yao zuolao (Going to Huangyan Island means going to jail),” Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend), May 4, 2012 (http://news.qq.com/a/20120504/000428.htm).
Thus began a two-month standoff at sea that ended when the Philippines withdrew its ships ahead of a typhoon, leaving China in control of the disputed atoll.By August, Manila had issued twelve formal diplomatic protests over the incident. Ryan Chua, “Philippines to bring China dispute to world body,” ABS-CBN News, August 3, 2012 (http://news.abs-cbn.com/-depth/08/03/12/philippines-bring-china-dispute-world-body).
Thereafter, Manila refrained from sending its ships back to Scarborough Shoal, while their Chinese counterparts maintained a constant presence. China emerged with effective control over the shoal.In late 2016, following new Philippines President Duterte’s strong pro-Beijing overtures, the PRC began tolerating Filipino fishing activities at the shoal. But it did not withdraw its ships from the shoal, making clear that Philippine fishing took place at Beijing’s pleasure. “Pinoy fishermen say they can fish in Scarborough Shoal again,” ABS-CBN News, October 28, 2016 (http://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/10/27/16/pinoy-fishermen-say-they-can-fish-in-scarborough-shoal-again).
The Scarborough Shoal incident was a smokeless battle for territorial-style control of maritime space, fought across the technosphere’s horizontal and vertical dimensions. The trigger for the confrontation was the Philippine military’s decision to dispatch its largest naval vessel to investigate the Chinese fishing activities first spotted by an airborne patrol on April 8. This response, in turn, was made possible by the US’s provision of the vessel, a refurbished coastguard cutter, which had been commissioned into the Philippines Navy in December 2011. The next key link in the causal chain was the emergency distress call system that had recently been installed on the PRC fishing boats. This enabled the crews to instantaneously alert authorities in Hainan of the situation using the Beidou satellite navigation system, which with near-perfect synchronicity had entered service the same month as Manila’s flagship whose mission it would thwart.Geoff Wade, “Beidou: China’s new satellite navigation system,” Flagpost, February 26, 2015 (http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/FlagPost/2015/February/Beidou_China_new_satellite_navigation_system).
Finally, the ability of the two CMS ships to reach the area in time to prevent the arrests was a direct result of their being in the area on a “regular rights defense patrol” at the time – a program enabled by technologies whose genesis lay, as detailed above, in the legal instruments China crafted in response to the arrival of the UNCLOS regime under which half the world’s maritime littoral was territorialized.“Liu Cigui: Bohai yiyou haishang wuran yanzhong, haiyang fazhan luobi shengtai baohu (Liu Cigui: pollution serious from Bohai oil spill, signing up to ecological protection),” Phoenix TV, June 11, 2012 (http://phtv.ifeng.com/program/wdsz/detail_2012_06/11/15202134_0.shtml).

CONCLUSION
This dossier entry has detailed how the scope of land-based state authority over East Asia’s seas has been intimately related to the horizontal outgrowth of the technosphere. The development of offshore oil and gas was integral to the original seaward thrust of state authority in 1945, and in 1958 international law left the extent of that authority in the impersonal hands of technological development. Yet, this alignment between technosphere and land-based dominion over the sea was by no means a new development. The historical ascendancy of the “free seas” doctrine was dependent on sponsorship from a succession of technologically advanced maritime hegemons. And even during this period, exclusive state authority over the seas was widely accepted out to a distance of 3 nautical miles from the coast – a figure derived from the putative range of a cannon shot. Nor is there anything novel (or indeed technologically determined) about changes in the land‒sea divide in Asia. Like the volcanic eruptions that in 2013 created the new island of Nishinoshima (which Japan may use to expand its own EEZ claim), or the storms that apparently created a new territory at Luconia Shoals in the far southern reaches of the Spratly Islands, the edges of land and sea are naturally always shifting.See Andrew Chubb, “Luconia Breakers: China’s new ‘southernmost territory’ in the South China Sea?” South Sea Conversations (blog), June 16, 2015 (https://southseaconversations.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/luconia-breakers-chinas-new-southernmost-territory-in-the-south-china-sea/).
What is novel is the role of the outward, upward, seaward spread of human tools in precipitating so many recent changes – and the layers of meaning that such changes accrue in the context of our categorical knowledge schemes, of which the land‒sea dichotomy stands as one of the most fundamentally inescapable.