Category Archives: labour

Block the Boat

One of the most trenchant points that Deb Cowen makes in her superb book, The Deadly Life of Logistics, is that labour mobilisation is a form of “obstruction” that is securitised by shipping companies and states and crushed, precisely because it … Continue reading

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The Bloody Business of War

I discovered something interesting that somehow I had managed to miss all those years ago about the massacre at Karantina… Years ago, I wrote in my first book (which was based on my PhD research) which also included stories about … Continue reading

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The docks as a non-place

Francisco Goldman and Jean-Claude Izzo speak to each other through their respective novels, The Ordinary Seaman and The Lost Sailors.  Both are stories about waiting in the docks, literally, in a floating metal tub full of holes.  Both tell stories within stories … Continue reading

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Rime of mariners ancient or modern

I think I read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner some years ago when i was young, but like a great many great works of literature, it is a poem that is wasted on the youth.  Its sense of regret, loss, … Continue reading

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The Cargo Cults of USA – Part II

In an extraordinary essay titled “The Smell of Infrastructure,” Bruce Robbins argues that the scaffolding of our lives, the infrastructure that carries shit and coal and lobsters and water and electricity is often made invisible. He has a rousing call … Continue reading

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Jayaben Desai

In this moving obituary of an extraordinary woman, Jayaben Desai, this passage stood out: Desperate for work, the newly arrived accepted long hours and low wages, though the need to do so, Desai said, “nagged away like a sore on … Continue reading

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The Cargo Cults of USA – Part I

John McPhee has taught David Remnick and Richard Stengel and a few other famous journalists to write, and apparently he is a fixture of The New Yorker, but his work is so much more interesting that those of his proteges, and … Continue reading

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“no sailor’s card”

Imagine a trans-textual “proletarian” protagonist, one that has travelled the world, gets stuck into adventures aboard ships and on land, and has a laconic easy sarcasm and a way with words.  A kind of working class Marlowe with a better … Continue reading

Posted in bureacuracy, labour, literature, ports, readings, seafaring, shipping conditions, ships, the sea | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Lottery of the Sea

With thanks to Michelle Woordward whose 2007 blogpost on Allan Sekula’s Lottery of the Sea brought me here, it seems that Adam Smith has a wonderful passage about the sea which does the familiar two discursive manoeuvres -speaking of the sea … Continue reading

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The Brooklyn Docks

Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954) is often ranked among the greatest films made in the US.  I had seen it when I had been very young but, because of a friend’s suggestion, recently reread the script.  I was rather shocked … Continue reading

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