Fish, Fishery, and Fishy Geopolitics in the Global Terrestrial-Oceanic Capitalist Assemblage

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


    While it’s said that capitalism has no external limits, ocean is usually portrayed as the outlandish space for the land-based exploitative system to conquer and possess. The empire-nation complexes as the primal agents of capitalist globalization navigate, map, and partition the seas with the the discourse of national interest, and the technologies of state territorialization and militarization in order to construct the terrestrial-marine assemblage. The growing geopolitical tensions between the United States and China trigger off a possible process of decoupling (of the supply chains) and the call for autarky (economic self-sufficiency) after decades of neoliberal globalization. But the global fishery industry reveals the interconnected structure of land-sea capitalist continuum. Global food chain provides strong motivations to the large-scale extraction, processing, and export of fish products from the global South to distant high-end markets and distributed to consumers who have no connection with the socio-environmental conditions of the food production. Different nations get into conflicts in disputed territorial waters because they attempt to stake claims on the marine resources. The climate change pushes fish stocks to move and migrate since fish need more oxygen when the temperature is rising. As fish crosses political borders, it constitutes a platform for confrontation. Food security, resource control and geopolitical opportunism drive Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The U.S.-China rivalry between good and evil, between democratic and authoritarian values may be a Hollywood-styled drama staged on the surface. Great power competition demonstrates the logic of mirror-imaging – the rival usually sees the world the same way as that of the hegemon and will try to replicate the similar path to domination. In the submarine space beneath the human contestation, migrating fish may function as our hope for heterotopia, a site for resistance, against global capitalism’s devastating nature.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2021
    EventAsia Theories Network Online Workshop 2021: Oceanic Capitalism - Online
    Duration: 29 May 202130 May 2021


    WorkshopAsia Theories Network Online Workshop 2021
    Internet address


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