This 2001 book presents a history of the uses, regulations and representation of the world-ocean, from approximately 1450 through the present. This history is told through a ‘territorial political economy’ lens, borrowing from world-systems theory, economic-geographic studies of the spatiality of capitalism, political-geographic work on the history of territoriality, and post-structural work on social conflict in the production of space. Just as the modern era has been characterized by a conflicting set of dynamic and contested spatiality on land, so has it been characterized by a conflicting set of spatial functions at sea. Evidence is marshaled from legal texts, literary and artistic creations, cartographic representations, advertisements, commercial and military history, and policy debates. The book concludes by considering how lessons learned from the history of the ocean may be applied to emerging spaces, such as cyberspace, where there is a similarly problematic ‘fit’ between social processes and the institutions of state governance.