Traveling Seas Far & Wide
The Floating Laboratory of Action & Theory At Sea (FLOATS) is an experimental platform dedicated to teaching, research, public engagements and awareness about the social sciences of the sea. One of our main objectives is to offer a continuous critical commentary on the perils of our dominant territorial frameworks. We take seriously the idea of “floating,” whether in terms of the state of contemporary forms of mobility and rootlessness that the space of the sea offers or as a means of fostering a series of "floating conversations" over the many pressing past and present challenges as well as creative opportunities of seas and shorelines. Bringing together academics, artists, activists and others, FLOATS will rotate serially through the seas, stopping at several key port-cities and sites along the way to host a series of open meetings and public events.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is a Palestinian-led movement for justice, equality, and freedom. It works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians, upholding a simple & clear principle: Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.
FLOATS meetings are conducted under BDS principles, i.e. there can be no cooperation with Israeli institutions, only with individuals within Palestine/Israel. If individual participants hold Israeli citizenship, they can participate but they cannot endorse the citizenship, at least not publicly (Lebanese citizens and workers in Lebanon are by state law forbidden to participate in projects with Israeli citizens. FLOATS is administered by the American University Beirut, which is subject to the same laws).
Keeping our ship Afloat
Nikolas Kosmatopoulos | Navigator
I came up with the idea of FLOATS through an inverted eureka moment, in which a careless swim almost brought my entire ontological subjectivity to an abrupt, banal and finite elimination; at sea, so flowed the instantaneous anti-Archimedean revelation, one can perish through sheer inaction. I came to the realization that floating was not a natural condition or an objective fact; Archimedes was wrong. Ever since then, things were crystal clear: floating embodies the art of not being sinkable despite reactionary countercurrents, and this is mostly possible through recovering from the bottom of the sea memories, theories, and stories of pain, pleasure and power that upset the ephemeral truths so firmly rooted on land.
Marwa ElShakry | Stargazer
One of my earliest memories is of the sea: splashing through the shore, diving through the watery depths to anchor my hands through the sandy bottoms until all the air finally escapes my lungs. I still dive into the sea that way. If "the unconscious is like an ocean," and if childhood is where the unconscious first takes form, then this memory no doubt occupies a vast scape of my mind. A gambler's ticket to freedom or a place of unknown deep terrors, the sea has fascinated countless generations. In our times, this last vast public commons is now under threat: an increasingly policed space, a liquid refugee cemetery, a site of toxic waste, and the terrain where we will no doubt first feel the full force of our own blatant environmental destruction. We might therefore even consider these seas to be our own unacknowledged collective unconscious, rife with the forces of our own collective repressions and oppressions and which, if freed, can bring about a startling transformation. Together with like-minded spirits, artists, academics, activists and futurists, I joined FLOATS to help begin this collective re-membering and com-memoration of the oceans of life around us.
Myriam Claire Baker | Quartermaster
Amidst all chaos permeating all aspects of our lives, and especially our psyches, I’ve come to realize the importance of envisioning or maybe even finding an escape, a place, or a state of mind unscathed by modern capitalist culture and logic. Floating is palliative, and with that, the sea becomes a refuge. Yet, parallel to our suffering is that of the sea. I see FLOATS as an opportunity to revivify the sea in public sphere discourse, reclaim it as both a symbolic and a real alternative to, and resistance against, current governing systems of oppression. I’m a candidate for an MA in Clinical Psychology and the administrative coordinator at FLOATS.
Reem Joudi | Radio Operator
My fascination with the sea is partly symptomatic of living near bodies of water her entire life. Now in Beirut, I witness the sea held hostage by growing political endeavours & privatization efforts, slowly altering socioeconomic and ecological conditions in Lebanon and the surrounding region. Thus, floating becomes a utopian exercise; a mental and physical state of being that thinks through the sea as an alternative and sustainable space for the future, upon which narratives and imaginaries of liberation can be drawn. A candidate for an MA in Media Studies, I am responsible for digital communications; a testament to the ever-shifting, but always present, media roles on board all ships.
Panos Kostouros | Chronicler
I feel very privileged to be part of a global and highly talented team that focuses on capturing and spreading such an essential facet of truth at this moment of history. FLOATS is worth of an attentive and caring treatment. It is a formidable initiative and its historic, political and scientific significant value should be broadly communicated. Our aim is to convey the seed and development of an open conversation between Academics and people who wish to explore the Sea's Past while realistically anticipating a hopeful future. We can all imagine the Sea as Utopia and what I personally find vital is the ability to collectively share this fantasy. If, for whatever reason, you cannot attend the two meeting points of Lesvos and NY, I promise you to record and present in the most eloquent way possible all the great ideas shared.