CfP. The Ocean and Seas in Geographical Thought. International Geographic Union (Commission on the History of Geography). Thematic Conference. Milan (Italy), University of Milano-Bicocca, 6-8 June 2023 and Post-Conference Excursion to Venice, 9-10 June 2023

As a contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (20212030), we
propose to organise a thematic conference of the IGU, focusing the ocean and seas as complex and
relational geographical ‚objects‘ through a plurality of foci. For centuries, the ocean and seas have
been means for connecting people and at the same time separating them, corresponding to
different functions through different times and cultures. While the earliest studies were made by
maritime nations, and especially with either colonial or military reasons, more recently the
emphasis has been on firstly the need to exploit the oceans and secondly on the links with global
changes. Hence, these liquid spaces and their pictorial and cartographic representations have been
the object of rich studies in the geographical tradition that anticipated some features of current
debates on nonstate geopolitics, hybridity, and global change, to mention only some of the most
often quoted matters in broader disciplinary and transdisciplinary conversations.
Marine complexity and the many uses and users require that all the disciplines within both physical
geography and human geography are required to be combined in true interdisciplinary studies.
The ocean and seas are social spaces, political spaces, logistical spaces and cultural spaces. Since
the early 2000s, the scientific community has renewed its interest in the ocean by focusing also on
their educational value: Ocean Literacy means understanding the influence the ocean has on human
beings and of human beings on the ocean.
Furthermore, the ocean and seas are at the center of current discussions on the life of the planet,
climate change and sustainability. From an economic perspective, the use of ocean resources is one
of the most critical challenges that humanity needs to tackle in the coming years. Almost invariably,
these issues are intersected by gender and social location. Successfully addressing these issues
implies a dialogue between different academic specialties and between scholarship and public
policy, including grassroots movements and activism. The seas should not be spaces of exclusion,
but help to ensure mobility for all. In particular, there is the need to cover the continuum from
ecological structure and functioning, to ecosystem services and then to societal goods and benefits.
IGU commissions and task forces have a lot of expertise about wide arrays of maritime issues. This
thematic session aims to put together interventions from all branches of geography and critical
thinking on the chosen theme to foster intra and interdisciplinary dialogue on such a large part of
the earth’s surface (70%). That is the part of our globe covered with waters, one which geographer
Elisée Reclus described as a metaphor of universal human brotherhood, being the grand common
basin in which all different individual streams converge. The meeting will especially look for
contributions which bring a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding and management of
the oceans.
Sessions and papers could be devoted (but not limited) to the following subthemes (see the
conference website for the call):

History of Ocean and Seas
The Ocean and Diversity
Livelihoods and Life in and on the Ocean and the Seas
Imaginaries and representations of the Ocean and the Seas
Heritage, culture, tourism in coastal and maritime areas
Planning and governance of coastal and maritime regions
Ocean and Seas: spaces of inclusion and exclusion
The climate emergency from a maritime perspective
Adaptability and resilience of coastal and maritime areas

Collaboration with the other proposed thematic conference on Islands in Relations: Conflicts,
Sustainability, and Peace

The IGU Commission on Island (C20.25) has proposed a thematic conference on Islands in Relations:
Conflicts, Sustainability, and Peace to be held in Osaka, Japan on 46 April 2023.
Given that islands and the ocean are conceptually and empirically inseparable, we would like to
actively collaborate with the Commission on Island to connect the proposed two conferences so
that they can provide a more significant and comprehensive forum on islands and the ocean. In
order to connect the two conferences held in different places and times, we plan to organize a joint
virtual session for each conference and/or a series of virtual lectures, seminars or events on both
themes between the two conferences. We will do our best to realize this very new endeavor in the
history of IGU thematic conferences.
Accessibility: Milan, the capital of Lombardy, amongst the most dynamic and international regions
in Europe, is located in the center of Europe and is one of the easiest cities to reach: in normal
circumstances hundreds of direct flights connect everyday Milan to destinations around the world,
via the airports of MilanoMalpensa, Linate and Orio al Serio, while the Central Station is one of
Europe’s largest train hubs. Milan is also easily reached by car. The conference will be
complemented with a Postconference excursion to Venice on the Adriatic.
Conference website: https://iguchg2023.unimib.it (under construction)
Info: geografia@unimib.it


Dr. Valentina Anzoise Ph.D.
Submission deadlines:
Sessions: 9th September 21st October 2022 (acceptance 14th November 2022)
Abstracts: 21st November 2022 9th January 2023 (acceptance 6th February)
Please, send your proposal to: geografia@unimib.it by filling the dedicated form