Guillem Valle, ‘Suspensa’, ca. 2015, Raffaella De Chirico

As coastal tourism began to bloom in the early 90s, more and more Sea Badjaos were lured away from the ocean, migrating to a life on land with an intention to adapt to modern living and consumption. In that process these stateless people found themselves at a great disadvantage having no access to schooling, healthcare or any kind of recognition by the government. Once nomadic and seafaring people, their traditional way of life has for the most part disappeared as many now live in squalid settlements. Their unique skills in free diving, along with their invaluable knowledge and understanding of the ocean has become less relevant to life on land. Indeed the younger generations are beginning to lose their ability to free-dive to the bottom of the reef to search for fish or pearls.
Just as their identity defies the idea of the state and its laws of exclusive territory, their activity as underwater fishermen appears to also test the limits of human physiology as they walk seamlessly on the ocean's floor. Indeed the Badjao people, in their bond with the sea propose a distinct relationship with the earth and the notion of nation, it's limits and tensions.

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