Summer School

The Ocean’s Lab Summer Field Schools entail collaborative research and learning in port cities and on boats, guest lectures, and field trips that aim to teach undergraduate and graduate students interdisciplinary and transregional research methodologies.

Maritime Radicalism Graduate Summer School The 2023 Oceans Lab Graduate Summer School was a collaborative effort between The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, L'Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza,” and Columbia University. This week-long workshop explored the social anthropology of maritime radicalism across multiple maritime spaces from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean through seminars on board the sailing vessel Raj, which has a history of hosting academic events. Professors Jatin Dua, Matteo Aria, Mara Benadusi, and Naor Ben-Yehoyada led discussions on pre-circulated papers submitted by the graduate student participants. A central framing of this seminar was to think through the possibilities of thinking about the sea at sea. To that end, a seminar onboard the Raj provided a unique academic experience that combined the marine environment, life aboard a small vessel, navigating the Italian littoral with the study of maritime radicalism. The summer school took place from June 26-30, 2023 and consisted of three full days of discussion sessions, along with dedicated time for organization and navigation. Departing from and returning to Livorno, a historically important port-city on the Ligurian Sea and key site of maritime labor organizing, the workshop ended with a public event and roundtable that was attended by students from La Sapienza and Livorno residents, including current and former maritime workers and seafarers.

Counter-Mapping Shipping: Digital Joy and Digital Labor in Oceanic Social Media


The Oceans Lab, an interdisciplinary research and advocacy initiative, explores maritime issues across oceanic spaces. With a focus on themes of race, labor, inequality, climate change, migration, and geopolitics, the Lab seeks to unravel the complexities of our oceans, making them comprehensible through innovative approaches. One such approach is the creation of this map that aims to help bridge gaps between how scholars describe oceanic spaces and the voices of those that inhabit them.

Inspired by global maritime shipping maps like, the Oceans Lab’s map is not just about tracing the trajectories of cargo ships; it is about weaving together interdisciplinary oceanic scholarship with the voices of those who inhabit the seas. It seeks to represent the various voices and ideas that converge to define the concept(s) of the ocean(s) from what may initially appear to be blank cartographic space. In the spirit of counter-mapping, we invite creators, scholars, and seafarers to use our submit button in order to actively participate in redefining how we perceive and understand oceanic spaces.

Counter-mapping, at its core, seeks to provide alternative perspectives and representations that challenge dominant power structures and dominant narratives (Peluso 1995). This ever-evolving map thus recognizes that the ocean is not just a backdrop for the global commerce represented on standard shipping maps, but a vibrant and dynamic space shaped by human experiences.

In addition to showcasing the multifaceted nature of oceanic life, the map brings to the fore the concept of digital labor and attention economies. In the digital age, content creation and the curation of online personas have become forms of labor, often underestimated and overlooked. Those at sea who engage in social media share not only their experiences participating in the shipping economy, but also contribute to the attention economy. In addition to including these digital contributions in scholarly conversations, the map hopes to open up questions about this digital labor, underscoring the importance of recognizing it within the broader context of oceanic scholarship.

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Do you want to add something to our Oceans Map?

Send us your name, a short essay, a short story, a photo, a video, or a link to a social media post related to the sea or maritime issues (TikToks at sea are welcome, as are research essays!). We aim to fill our map with “stories from the sea” of all kinds.