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Nathan Rew

Papua New Guinean/Pākehā

Nathan is a Papua New Guinean/Pākehā activist and academic based in Auckland committed to Indigenous resurgence and decolonisation across Oceania. A doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Auckland, Nathan’s work focuses on the ontological and epistemological violences of colonialism in constructing modern relationships to water, the oceans, and Melanesian existence. Nathan is a climate and social justice activist committed to West Papuan and collective Pacific liberation, and has worked as a researcher on a range of issues facing Pacific communities in areas such as health, employment, and climate resistance.

Aqua Nullius and a New Oceania

This conversation establishes and examines the existence of aqua nullius, an implicit logic of colonial-capitalism which shapes how the modern world understands water and the oceans. In this aqua nullius names the colonial-capitalist inability to conceptualise, relate to, and make sense of water within the frameworks of western and international law. This being anchored in colonial-capitalism’s critical reliance on the oceans and water as an extra legal space in which its exceptional framing continues to allow for the extraction of wealth from colonies and periphery nations and the flow of this wealth to the global north. Consequently, this conversation explores the ways in which aqua nullius renders colonial-capitalism incompatible with Oceanian and collective Pacific futures, and reminds us of the need to abolish these systems if the Pacific as we know it is to survive the 21st Century.

Nathan Rew
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