Enacting the blue economy in the Western Indian Ocean: a ‘collaborative blue economy governmentality’

The Blue Economy represents a new development paradigm, being promoted through multilateral institutions. I examine its emerging nature in the context of the Western Indian Ocean region of Africa. I situate the blue economy within the global sustainable development discourse and argue that it represents a form of global governmentality. I note its utopian nature and argue that discourses of utopian thought and risk act to ‘responsibilise’ States to collaborate in regional sea management in pursuit of human and environmental security goals – which I call a ‘collaborative blue economy governmentality’. I draw attention to multiple sites of resistance (‘counter conducts’) to this governmentality. These counter conducts are diverse, encompassing community resistance to development priorities, insufficient technical capacities and resources, and the material character of ocean and coastal ecosystems. I therefore characterise the blue economy as an immature governmentality, necessitating State and multilateral intervention to put in place or strengthen the governmental capacities needed to enact it. I conclude that the BE governmentality is largely of a neoliberal character, but with hints of an emergent post-neoliberal regime.