‘The collapse of centre and periphery’: an urbanising Southern Ocean amongst a de-urbanising world

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Contemporary understandings of the Southern Ocean are eclipsed by ‘wilderness’ aspirations, diminishing our capacity to recognise human-driven processes in, and increasing urbanisation of, the Antarctic. This, despite a long history of resource extraction, industrial networks, and embedded infrastructure across the region; and growing exploitation and exploration interests in the Southern Ocean itself. The world’s most vulnerable (and yet powerful) ocean reveals an extension of urban processes beyond the container of ‘the city’ and the transformation of vast landscapes. However, just as urban processes extend beyond the bounds of ‘the city’, so too does the ocean exceed the littoral edge – with serious consequences for urban viability along ravaged coastlines. While much research considers sea level rise impacts upon cities, it also relegates the ocean to the periphery of such discussions. Cities are ‘secured’ by ‘off-shoring’ ecological disruption to the beyond, all while ‘de-urbanising’ occurs alongside the masking of an urban Southern Ocean. In this paper, I examine the ongoing urbanisation of the ocean and its unexpected inverse: the ocean’s de-urbanisation of cities. ‘The collapse of centre and periphery’ is a rehearsed argument in urban discourse, but the urbanising Southern Ocean makes apparent relationships constituted at a worryingly planetary scale.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInstitute of Australian Geographers Conference 2019: Geographies of Emergence, Divergence and Convergence - Wrest Point Convention Centre, Hobart, Australia
Duration: 9 Jul 201913 Jul 2019


ConferenceInstitute of Australian Geographers Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleIAGC
Internet address


  • urban
  • ocean
  • Southern Ocean
  • Antarctic
  • climate change
  • coastal
  • planetary

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