Positioning possibilities for human geographies of the sea: Automatic Identification Systems and its role in spatialising understandings of shipping
Ole J. Müller and Kimberley Peters
Geography Compass 18, e12741-16, 2024
This paper positions possibilities for human geographies of the sea. The growing volume of work under this banner has been largely qualitative in its approach, reflecting, in turn, the questions posed by oceanic scholars. These questions necessitate corresponding methods. Whilst this is not necessarily a problem, and the current corpus of work has offered many significant contributions, in making sense of the human dimensions of maritime worlds, other questions —and methods—may generate knowledge that is useful within this remit of work. This paper considers the place of quantitative approaches in posing lines of enquiry about shipping, one of the prominent areas of concern under the banner of ‘human geographies of the seas’. There is longstanding work in transport geographies concerned with shipping, logistics, freight movement and global connections, which embraces quantitative methods which could be bridged to ask fresh questions about oceanic spatial phenomena past and present. This paper reviews the state of the art of human geographies of the sea and transport geographies and navigates how the former field may be stimulated by some of the interests of the latter and a broader range of questions about society‐sea‐space relations. The paper focuses on Automatic Identification Systems (or AIS) as a potentially useful tool for connecting debates, and deepening spatial understandings of the seas and shipping beyond current scholarship. To advance the argument the example of shipping layups is used to illustrate or rather, position, the point.