Towards a critical geography of ships 2

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural Geography Specialty Group, Economic Geography Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Mid-City, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Organizers: Nicholas Anderman, Elizabeth Sibilia
Chairs: Elizabeth Sibilia


Ships floundering, blocked and struck at sea have made headlines with surprising regularity in the past year. Most recently, non-US flagged ships were controversially prohibited by US law from delivering aid to Puerto Rico for more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, contributing to a steadily worsening humanitarian crisis on the island. This follows fatal collisions between US Naval ships and large commercial vessels in Japanese territorial waters and the South China Sea; a debilitating ransomware attack on the world’s largest container shipping company, A.P. Moller-Maersk; and the mid-2016 bankruptcy of the South Korean container carrier Hanjin, which left the firm’s entire fleet—some 95 ships strewn across the world’s shipping lanes and moored at ports in more than 25 countries––in a state of legal limbo. These events suggest that ships, which for decades have remained largely invisible (Sekula 1995, Sekula and Burch 2010, Hasty and Peters 2012), are increasingly understood to be public matters of concern (Latour 2004, 2008).

A raft of recent scholarship from across the social sciences focuses on ocean-going ships in the context of global logistics and military systems (Chua 2015, Cowen 2014, Danyluk et al. forthcoming), mobility studies (Birtchnell et al. 2015, Hasty and Peters 2012, Peters 2014), and historical geography (Bonner 2016, Hasty 2014). In many of these accounts, ships are taken to be relatively unambiguous objects, with clearly demarcated physical boundaries and straightforward––albeit manifold––cultural meanings. More often than not, they are deployed as signifiers of the reach of globalized capital or as nodes in complex infrastructural assemblages. But just what are ships? What kinds of spaces, knowledge and subjects do they produce and enable at sea, on shore, and far inland? And how do they shape contemporary life? Echoing and extending recent calls to put ships at the center of geographic inquiry (Hasty and Peters 2012, Anim-Addo et al 2014), this paper session presents original research, conceptual studies and critical reflections focused on ships.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jessica Lehman*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Matter of a Shipwreck 20 10:00 AM
Presenter Terence Rudolph*, York University, The Geoeconomics of Commercial Rescue on the Mediterranean Sea 20 10:20 AM
Presenter Julian Stenmanns*, , Ships, stowaways and contested mobilities: A viapolitical analysis of supply chain capitalism 20 10:40 AM
Presenter Nicholas Anderman*, University of California - Berkeley, Boredom on container ships 20 11:00 AM
Discussant Martin Danyluk University of Toronto 20 11:20 AM

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