On the Name Change

If you clicked on an old link to this blog recently, you may have noticed that the site has undergone a self-effacing identity change from “Movement to the Sea” to “Shorebound.” Here’s a quick explanation:

Throughout the research proposal process (and even in my first iteration of this blog, housed on Wix) I referred to this project by the name “March to the Sea.” It was brief, evocative, and thematically relevant to the crabs. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize why the name had such a ring to it; General William T. Sherman’s 1864 march of destruction from Atlanta to the Savannah coast went by the same name.

As someone born and raised in Georgia, failing to remember Sherman’s march is particularly shameful, but upon realizing this namesake I knew I had to rename the project. Maybe there are parallels between Sherman’s path of material destruction by the Union soldiers and the red crab migration; the volume of bodies marching in close proximity; the (intentional or not) havoc wreaked on transportation (rail ties bent around trees, red crabs piercing tires with their crushed shells); the intense craving for Savannah ports, for low-tide Indian Ocean waters, for the sea.

savannah_campaign
Map of Sherman’s destructive march

But none of these parallels were in my mind when I first named the project, so it felt wrong. The second iteration, “Movement to the Sea” (or just “To the Sea”) came from a desire to departe from the militaristic associations of “march,” and a need for a URL that wasn’t already taken. “Movement” was not my ideal choice.

The importance of the word “shore” struck me recently in a meeting with one of my faculty advisors. We were going over my research plan and literature review, and I was describing the relevance of Christmas Island as an offshore detention center because of its location. The precision of the phrase “offshore detention” was something I had recently acquired after going through a literature review process, and using the phrase in conversation actually reminded my advisor of another detention center- Guantanamo Bay. As we discussed possibilities for my research, I realized that the precision of the terminology was quite powerful; not until I used the phrase did it remind my advisor of similar forms of detention worldwide. The term allowed access to a larger, global conversation. Even now, a quick search using those keywords (without specifying location) bring up Australia almost exclusively and evoke brutality, inhumanity, suffering.

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Results of Googling “offshore detention”

 

So I wanted the name “Offshore.” But then there are the crabs. And it actually turns out that there is a documentary named “Offshore Journey.” I hunted around for phrases invoking a direction to or from the shore and settled on shorebound, a phrase literally meaning “heading for the shore.”

I like the dual meaning of “bound.” In Christmas Island: An Anthropological Study, Simone Dennis describes the way that stasis and confinement alienate asylum seekers on an island characterized by movement (of crabs, of locals through ethnic neighborhoods, of tourists who come and go). She points out that “stopping or halting movement is remarkable in a place that otherwise bears the hallmarks of constant movement,” arguing that confining asylum seekers forces them into contrast with the ever-moving nature of the island. The asylum seekers are bound on the shore.

That’s the story of Shorebound, for now. I’m sure the name and its considerations will change as my research process continues, but for now, the links to the old URL are no longer functional. 🙂

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