Articulations of Logistics and Social Difference

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Wesley Attewell, Kyle Loewen
Chairs: Juan De Lara


Global supply chains both depend on the production, exploitation, and exclusion of social and spatial difference even as they bring these social formations in to new connections, associations, and assemblages in order to expand commodity movement at the planetary scale (Tsing 2009). Beginning from this premise, this session aims to further develop existing conversations within critical geography between research on race, gender, and colonialism on the one hand and logistics, capital circulation, and supply chains on the other hand. Existing logistics research has elaborated several aspects of these articulations, including the race and gender based segmentation of logistics labor markets (Gutelius 2015), the racialized effects of pollution from the logistics industry (De Lara 2012), and the political leverage that network chokepoints offer for indigenous resistance to resource extraction (Cowen 2014b). These conversations provide many avenues for further investigation. For example feminist research on global production has convincingly argued for years that gender is a constitutive aspect in the production of the cheap and flexible labor (Collins 2003; Wright 2006). Building on these insights we might ask, How do the specific forms of flexibility required by logistics systems articulate with the racialized and gendered production of logistics labor? Similarly, Marion Werner has argues that race and gender are necessary for understanding not-only shop-floor politics but also the restructuring of production networks themselves (Werner 2015). How then do race, gender, and colonialism articulate with the actual architecture of supply chains? Finally, Deborah Cowen’s work has utilized a biopolitical analysis of logistics in order to argue that the genealogy of the concept of the supply chain has framed these integrated networks as a form of life that must be made to live regardless of the forms of violence enroll (Cowen 2014a). In addition to Cowen’s biopolitical analysis, there are lingering questions about not only about the life of “the supply chain” but the lives and livelihoods that supply chains make live and let die.

To further interrogate these articulations of logistics and social difference, we invite papers from a range of disciplinary, methodological, and conceptual orientations—including feminist, Marxist, queer, de-colonial, assemblage, and anti-racist theory—that foreground critical inquiries of logistics. Topics may include:

- Colonialism, uneven development, and the architecture of supply
- The racialized and gendered production of skill in logistics labor
- International and inter-racial solidarity along the supply chain
- The biopolitics of logistics
- Logistics and social reproduction
- Racialized and gendered effects of logistics development
- Chokepoints and the shifting positionality of place in political struggle.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Beth Gutelius*, University of Illinois at Chicago, For Whom are the Robots Coming? 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Kyle Loewen*, , Producing Delivery: Gender, Labor Control, and the (re)Construction of retail markets 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Yi Wang*, University of Toronto, Counter-hegemony at Walmart?: Articulation, class formation, and logistical power along the food chain 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Rakhee Kewada*, CUNY - Graduate Center, Changing Structures of Cotton Production: The place of Tanzanian cotton farmers in global supply chains 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Anne-Marie Debbane*, San Diego State University, Water, biopolitics and supply chain security in Ceres, South Africa 20 9:20 AM

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