There has been a growing and welcomed focus on sea and water in South African contexts as part of a critical humanities project on environmental challenges and in facing entangled histories of colonisation through oceans, what Isabel Hofmeyr (2019) has termed hydrocolonialism. Notwithstanding this emerging body of work, narratives and experiences from the global South that are engaging the sea for justice scholarship have not been well represented in international spaces and writings. This chapter provides a local and global context for the edited volume. Key philosophical and methodological framings are unpacked, including hydrofeminism, coined by Astrida Neimanis (2012), which serves as a primary lens within the book and in the growing body of scholarship that pertains to hydrofeminism. 

Posthumanist, decolonial and indigenous feminist thought are also key to framing the studies represented here. Thinking across disciplines and modalities, particular collaborations of art and activism are threaded through much of this work as well. Three key themes are identified as evident in current emphases that engage oceanic thinking in South African scholarship, activism and art, including: the the recognition and working with ocean/s as a political, haunted space with respect to the violent past of colonisation and apartheid and its remains in the present; a deep sensitivity and engagement with ocean/s and hauntings of the present and future of global environmental damages and challenges; and an appreciation of the ocean and beaches as spaces of possibility for individual and community healing, transformation, pedagogy, alternative scholarship, activism, justice and change.


Tamara Shefer, Vivienne Bozalek and Nike Romano