Amphibious Anthropology: Engaging with Maritime Worlds in Indonesia


Annet Pauwelussen

PhD defended at: 

Wageningen University


Bringing together theoretical currents in anthropology, development sociology, Science and Technology Studies and philosophy, this thesis develops the notion of ‘amphibiousness’ to explore the human capacity to live and move between different worlds that partly flow into each other: in terms of living in a hybrid land-sea environment and in terms of moving along with different modes of existence. Based on long-term mobile ethnography in Indonesia among seafaring people, fishers and conservationists, the thesis shows radically different ways people relate to the sea, including its multiple (animal, spirit, material) agencies. The mobile and fluid quality of their worlds challenges established concepts of sustainability and justice in environmental governance, and marine conservation in particular. Interweaving conceptual innovation with ethnographic depth the thesis provides theoretical and methodological reflection on the conditions for dialogue when radically different understandings of human-marine relations clash in conservation interventions.