Julia Verne (Mainz)

Technological Mediations in Coastal Waters

A Way Towards More Convivial Human-Shark Relations in La Réunion?

In recent years, human-shark encounters in the Indian Ocean have sparked highly controversial debates over humans' right to the sea. While sharks pose a danger to humans which some wish to eliminate, at the same time they are endangered themselves and demand protection as a crucial part of marine ecosystems. Hence, in an attempt to solve this conflict of interest, different technologies are currently developed and used to mediate human-shark encounters. While some technologies still aim at a clear separation between humans and sharks, others, however, rather strive for a joint, yet less risky use of space. Taking the different technological innovations in use in the coastal waters of La Réunion as an example, this contribution examines the discursive as well as practical implications of these technologies for both humans and sharks, as well as for the relation between humans and the sea in this maritime contact zone (Haraway 2008). Asking whether these socio-technical interventions can be productively interpreted in light of posthumanist calls for more convivial relationships, this presentation wishes to contribute to current theoretical reflections on the relation between humans, technologies and the sea and their potential for less anthropocentric maritime spatial orderings.