Eating the Ocean by Elspeth Probyn

By Elspeth Probyn

In Eating the Ocean Elspeth Probyn investigates the profound significance of the sea and the way forward for fish and human entanglement. On her ethnographic trip round the world's oceans and fisheries, she unearths that the sea is being simplified in a nutrients politics that's overwhelmingly land dependent and preoccupied with buzzwords like "local" and "sustainable." constructing a conceptual tack that mixes severe research and embodied ethnography, she dives into the profitable and endangered bluefin tuna industry, the gendered politics of "sustainability," the ghoulish enterprise of manufacturing fish meal and fish oil for animals and people, and the lengthy background of encounters among people and oysters. Seeing the sea because the website of the entanglement of a number of species—which are all implicated within the interactions of expertise, tradition, politics, and the market—enables us to contemplate how one can boost a reflexive ethics of flavor and position established within the attention that we can't break out the meals politics of the human-fish relationship. 

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Macfadyen describes how “only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean” (Ray 2013). Without simplistic extremes like T. H. Huxley’s (1882) “inexhaustible” ocean fisheries or the image of the ocean on its last legs, how might we formulate a cultural politics that can encompass the vast challenge of sustaining fish-human-ocean relations? There is little consensus about what action to take, or which aspect to focus on. To illustrate this, I want to briefly analyze several recent representations that foreground di≠erent understandings about the current state of fish and fishing.

3 oysters at L’Ilôt, Paris. Photograph by author. distance” (2004, 10). I like the notion of an encounter, an encountering of oyster and human—the pull and push of intimacy and distance, of desire and disgust. As an oyster eater I am always astonished at the force with which those who don’t like oysters express their distaste. I am totally bemused by those who pretend to be indi≠erent to oysters. In this chapter, I follow oysters, I encounter them, I eat and relate what it might mean to become an oyster-eating body in training.

Moira Gatens extends Deleuze’s ideas into a feminist politics or ethics where action or decisions are predicated on timing. She writes, “Ethics is here not conceived as a transcendentally guaranteed set of rules but an ongoing experiment that requires skill, patience, and great care if it is to turn out well” (Gatens 1996, 11). That skill, patience, and care are what is lacking in contemporary debates. It is fussy, never-ending work that is most 46 chapter 1 often to be found in the realm of the domestic and the feminine.

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