The talk will begin medias maris – in the middle of the sea. Throughout the talk this becomes a privileged vantage point from which we can re-think politics and/as/of pleasure. As an embedded anthropologist aboard the Ships to Gaza, I explore the middle of the sea not merely as a random stigma on the nautical map, but rather a blank spot in our conventional mental maps for navigating a common planet.
The maritime turn in the International Solidarity with Palestine Movement offers new analytical frames to think about engaging the sea as actor in its own right. Beneath the Ships, I argue, the actor-sea articulated an anarchist Mediterraneanism, i.e. a radical political vision of the region in terms of inclusion and solidarity, based on a unified and unifying fact of sharing the same shores, irrespective of the borders and claims of the state. Second, it invited a politics of pleasure and proximity, an understanding of politics as a collective activity fundamentally grounded in the enactment of proximity in terms of affective ties, downscaled political imaginaries and in the enhancement of pleasure in the face of acute danger.