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The University of Southampton
Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering – Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies

Research project: Testing the Waters of Ocean Narratives

Currently Active: 

Ocean Narratives is a pilot research initiative launched by Susan Gourvenec (Engineering), Stephanie Jones (English), Bindi Shah (Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology), Dina Lupin (Law) and Les Carr (Electronics and Computer Science), following a University of Southampton institution-wide Sandpit on Narrative and Storytelling. The project is supported by the Higher Education Innovation Fund, the Web Science Institute, the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, and the Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities, with seed funding from the Sandpit enabling global collaborations with Jacqui Ayling, (University of Southampton), Buhle Francis (Rhodes University) and Jiswin Joseph (Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kerala, India).

The Ocean Narratives pilot study addressed the question “What ideas of the local and global ocean emerge from comparing social media narratives with a sample of community narrative?”, with a view to deepening the exploration to consider “How could narrative and storytelling about the ocean shape law and policy towards greater social and environmental justice?”

To address the initial question, the team:

  • Created a lexicon of ocean terms for data mining and to frame the analysis.
  • Mined selected digital sources for ocean-related posts and content (including Twitter, Amazon books, BBC programming, Gales news database, podcast listings and Hansard parliamentary records.)
  • Selected two community case studies for local narratives; marine fishing communities in Kerala, India and coastal communities in South Africa.
  • Carried out preliminary qualitative and quantitative interpretation of the data.
  • Carried out a comparative analysis, focusing on identifying narratives that are not present or are muffled in mainstream media, activist narratives and policy reports.
Ocean Narratives project team
The UK-based Ocean Narratives project team

An interdisciplinary workshop was held in September 2022 to share exploratory work towards:

  • the development of new projects relating to disparate data sets; interdisciplinary methods, particularly those related to narratives of any kind; and/or the ocean.
  • next steps for the project teams’ investigation into public narratives and stories about the ocean; how these shape policy and activism; the kinds of narratives that are excluded from policy and law-making processes; the relationship between how the ocean is narrated, and social and environmental justice. 
Ocean Narratives

Read more about the workshop here.

Related research groups

Infrastructure Group
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