As we witness the effects of anthropogenic climate change on our earth’s glaciers and ice sheets, The Political Lives of Dying Seas shifts our attention from rising sea levels, which have garnered significant attention, to shrinking and polluted inland seas. This comparative and multidisciplinary project investigates multiple seas understood to be experiencing various forms of death and revival in Eurasia by asking how people have produced knowledge about environmental changes related to East European and Eurasian seas over the last 50 years; what types of debates and understandings emerged as sea life began to change; and how people responded, including who adapted to, migrated from, and/or become active in saving seas.
This talk will be based on preliminary analysis of newspapers and other textual sources compiled as a 2021 Spring VORL research laboratory associate. The broader project is envisioned to help us better understand how humans cope with and make meaning of environmental losses, including how people seek to revive, adapt to, abandon and/or memorialize, particular places. The seas and their inhabitants, both human and non-human alike, can teach us about our relationships with place, power, contestation, responsibility, and activism on a planet on the precipice of environmental catastrophe, and help us make sense of the losses we are experiencing as a result of anthropogenic changes while also attuned to what may be possible to reverse and salvage.
Regine A. Spector is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her current research projects investigate local understandings of complex environmental and energy-related challenges related to rivers and seas in the U.S. and Eurasia. Her first book, Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia (Cornell University Press 2017) won two honorable mention awards and examined everyday understandings and practices related to marketplace orders in Kyrgyzstan. Other articles in Problems of Post-Communism, Post-Soviet Affairs, Review of International Political Economy, Polity and Central Asian Survey examine bazaars and the apparel manufacturing sector in Central Asia. More information about her teaching, mentoring and research can be found at https://polsci.umass.edu/people/regine-spector. She is a Spring 2021 Virtual Open Research Laboratory Associate.