Talk to the Sea: Deep-sea mining, the arts, and contesting narratives of extraction in the deep ocean.
Abstract: The deep-sea may be on the verge of becoming the latest frontier for resource extraction of critical metals and minerals in order to build renewable energy technologies such as electric vehicles. This thesis examines the narratives used by the deep-sea mining company The Metals Company to justify the extraction of polymetallic nodules from the seabed in the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. It also examines the counter narratives that critique this extraction. Additionally, it explores how the arts can play a role in disputing extractivism in the deep sea, with a focus on the role of the organization TBA-21 Academy in the deep-sea mining debate. I analyze these narratives utilizing the theoretical framing of resource and commodity frontiers from Anna Tsing and Jason Moore. From an in-depth literature review and 8 semi-structured interviews, I conclude that deep-sea mining depends on a framing of the necessity of supplying critical metals and minerals and improved extraction relative to land-based mining, as well as on the representation of the seabed as absent social connections, and lacking in biodiversity. The arts can play a critical role in communicating alternative conception, disrupting existing narratives of the seabed by bringing a cultural dimension to the debate.
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