The concept of social resilience thrives in studies and policies of fisheries and marine conservation. Associated with the ability of communities to adapt to change, it has spurred debates on social organisation for resilience. Considering its proliferation in maritime studies, the concept of social resilience requires a critical reflection on the ontological assumptions of ‘social’ and ‘community’ that undergirds the concept, in particular the idea that communities are place-based. Following a relational ontological approach, this article proposes to explore community as performative network of human and non-human relations acted out in practice. Drawing on insights from ethnographic research in a coastal region in Indonesia, I illustrate the performance of community networks beyond the local scale and how they sustain through the association of social and material elements. These trans-local communities have resisted conservationists’ attempts to create resilient (place-based) fishing communities in the region to impede illegal fishing. The case illustrates how a relational approach helps to illuminate what social resilience in a maritime context means in practice. The article aims to contribute to critical social resilience scholarship in maritime studies by drawing out how we may think and explore ‘social’ and ‘community’ otherwise and the implications this has for how we look for resilience.
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