21. April 2021 / Berlin/ Museum lab, Humboldt Universität, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Vortrag: »The Ocean as Thingspace. From the Ocean as ‘Master of Disappearance’ to the ‘Friendly Floatees’ and a new ocean cosmology«

In this talk I will explore the oceans as Thingspaces, and analyze the current Plastic Pollution of oceans within the long history of resurfacing objects from the sea. From the specific history of oceans as “Places of Away ” and “Places of No return” since the antiquity, where the ocean was valued for its property to “keep things under” (Lindenlauf 2003), – and a resurfacing object was regarded as a divine sign, like in the myth of Polycrates –, to a more recent event of recurring objects: The “Friendly Floatees”. Infamous 30 000 floating rubber ducks, that not only helped to map the ocean currents, but became icons for the plastic pollution of oceans themselves .
For that purpose, I will work with a discourse analytical perspective on the narratives, which have arisen around the event of the “Friendly Floatees”, including two children’s books and a Disney Channel Movie. The changing narratives around the “Friendly Floatees” can be used to describe the shift in human-ocean-relations within the growing oceanic Plastic Pollution and the shift in the ontology of the ocean itself.