Assembling Enclosure: Reading Marine Spatial Planning for Alternatives
Research on enclosure has often examined the phenomenon as a process and outcome of state, neoliberal, and hybrid territorial practices with detrimental impacts for those affected. The proliferation of increasingly complex environmental governance regimes and new enclosures, such as those now seen in the oceans, challenge these readings, however. Using the case of U.S. marine spatial planning (MSP), this article reexamines enclosure through the lens of assemblage. A comprehensive new approach to oceans governance based on spatial data and collaborative decision making, MSP appears to follow past governance programs toward a broad-scale rationalization and enclosure of U.S. waters. Yet this appearance might only be superficial. As an assemblage, U.S. MSP—and its shifting actors, associations, and practices—holds the potential to both close and open the seas for oceans communities, environments, and other actors. Planning actors use three practices to stabilize U.S. MSP for governance and enclosure: narrativizing MSP, creating a geospatial framework to underlie planning, and engaging stakeholders. These practices, however, simultaneously provide opportunities for communities and environments to intervene in U.S. MSP toward alternative outcomes. Rather than a closed seas, U.S. MSP presents opportunities for enclosure to happen differently or not at all, producing alternative outcomes for coastal and oceans communities, environments, and governance.