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Visiting Scholars Seminar: New Research on Europe

City Upon the Sea. Global Capitalism from Offshore Oil to Humanity's Colonization of the Ocean


March 29, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
March 29, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

The second half of the twentieth century saw enormous technological progress in the construction of offshore oil drilling platforms. Such platforms satisfied humanity’s growing energy hunger and inspired other oceanic colonization projects. In the 1960s European, U.S., and Japanese architects and engineers began drafting plans for floating cities and city extensions, which were (and are) designed to allow permanent offshore living without the need for large-scale land reclamation. I argue that this “oceanic colonizing mission,” as I call it, was driven by neo-Malthusian assumptions concerning population growth and a related shortage of land in coastal cities, as well as by shrinking energy and other resources onshore. The mobility of floating structures also served to decrease social vulnerability and could be used by urban planners to transform marginalized coastal spaces. It also challenges the idea of the land-based nation-state.



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