Sovereignty and Territoriality in the Seascape: From Inertia to Kinesis

Apostolos Tsiouvalas is a PhD Candidate at the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea. His research is dealing with the conceptualization of marine space in legal thought and seeks to problematize the way sovereignty interacts with the phenomenon of ‘mobility’ in the world’s oceans.

Apostolos Tsiouvalas Foto: UiT

To encapsulate an ontological understanding of ocean mobility that may reflect more-than-human and Indigenous ways of moving in (and with) space, his dissertation employs the Aristotelian idea of kinesis as a conceptual lens.The project further looks at how legal narratives shape spatial thinking, and how non-state understandings of motion could inform the existing legal architecture of the oceans.

Jurisprudence has been most commonly concerned with how mobility in the world’s oceans is shaped by environmental threads. Environmental factors are thus seen as main drivers of mobility, while law itself tends to conceptualize ‘mobility’ merely as an ‘emerging problem’ that needs to be halted or solved.

Albeit the causality of unprecedent ocean mobility to environmental factors is not debatable, it is important to realize that mobility may also be an ontological stance, a quality of the universe that has been there all the way along, even if previously disregarded or conceptualized as a ‘problem’ by Western legal thought.

This doctoral project thus seeks to confirm the presumption that law of the sea has to come to terms with the mobility in the world’s oceans linked to environmental threats. It seeks to expose the limitations of the existing oceanic legal imaginary in place and theorize a new ontology of ocean kinēsis for international law, decoupling from its intrinsic tendency towards inertia.

In addition to being a PhD-student at NCLOs Apostolous is also a Research Associate for The Arctic Institute, Center Circumpolar Security Studies, based in Washington D.C., and editor-in-chief of the Arctic Institute’s weekly publication, The Arctic This Week. His main research interests revolve around legal anthropology, new materialism(s), legal pluralism, indigenous rights and environmental law in the Arctic. Not least, he is fascinated by ‘law and comics’ approaches and critical jurisprudence in general.

Apostolos holds an LL.M. degree in Polar Law from the University of Akureyri in Iceland, an MPhil degree in the field of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies from the University of Tromsø, Norway, and a BA degree in Law from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He has also undertaken 12 months exchange mobility at the University of Trier in Germany in 2014 and at the University of Tromsø in 2018.

Prior to his employment at NCLOS, Apostolos carried out an internship at the Law Faculty of the University of Tromsø, providing research assistance to the former K.G. Jebsen Center for the Law of the Sea and the Sami Law Research Group.

During the summer of 2018, Apostolos also undertook twin internships with the Stefánsson Arctic Institute, a leading Arctic research body in Iceland, and the PAME Working Group of the Arctic Council, engaging in the projects ‘Sustainable Economies in the Arctic’ and ‘Arctic Marine Strategic Plan’ respectively.

After his move to Norway, his collaboration with the Stefánsson Arctic Institute continued remotely, including fieldwork for the project ‘Arctic Youth and Sustainable Future’. In the past, Apostolos has also served as trainee lawyer for the Thessaloniki's Bar Association.

For a comprehensive list of Apostolos research outcomes and current areas of interest, look here.

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Sist oppdatert: 11.03.2022 14:30