This podcast, produced by sea is the new land* in collaboration with PortCityFutures, explores contemporary crises in port cities as expressions of the transforming relationship between ocean and land. Each episode critically departs from a specific port city, tracing the profound political and socio-spatial implications of port transformation for maritime people and places, and conceiving the sea as an expanding space of production and enigmatic urbanisation[1].

Around 90% of the world’s goods and energy is transported in containers and tanks over sea. Fluctuations in transnational production and distribution systems are also affecting land territories. This is most obvious with container ports, their surrounding cities and regions. As well as being cogs in the machinery of the global supply chain, ports are fundamental infrastructures for other local uses, such as fishing, military or tourism. The shifts in the maritime business sector, and its social, environmental and political effects, visibly and increasingly manifest in port areas.

New aquatic technologies are accelerating certain phenomena – naval gigantism, colossal sand mining and land reclamation, and deeper underwater exploration and extraction. Alongside elaborated financial practices such as the Flag of Convenience, this acceleration indicates a new ambitious relationship between capitalism and the sea, one in which accumulative land practices are now increasingly encroaching onto maritime people and places.

While these transformations take place, the global ocean, and the port cities and coastal areas where maritime practices land, are emerging as new critical spaces of discussion. This podcast aims to pluralise social-scientific knowledge of ports and their coastal regions, connecting their contemporary challenges to wider knowledge about global ocean transformation.

* sea is the new land is a platform created by Francesca Savoldi. It focuses on the intensifying relationship between capitalism and the sea, exploring stories of ocean-grabbing, maritime dispossession and social struggles in coastal communities. It attempts to document, across different formats, the increasingly frequent but overlooked dynamics shaping a new maritime era, in which the experience of capitalistic accumulation on land encroaches onto oceanic space.

[1] Couling, N. and Hein, C. (2020) The urbanization of the sea. From concepts and analysis to design. Marcel Witvoet, nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.