Category Archives: political economy

Playing with trains in the sand: reflections on the MENA Cargo show

GUEST POST BY R.Z. Having spent the last couple of years researching Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs), attending their industry gatherings and military expos, I was very excited to shift gears to a new project and curious what differences … Continue reading

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Arrival

15 February 2015 16.00 We have arrived too soon, because of steaming at high speed through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, in order for the ship to make it to Ningbo for an earlier … Continue reading

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Fouq El-Nakhl: Masaculinities aboard the ship

“and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick   The first incident of its kind happened last night.  Hopefully, also the last.  I was in the wheelroom in the dark, keeping easy … Continue reading

Posted in infrastructure, labour, Middle East, political economy, ports, seafaring, shipping conditions, transport | 1 Comment

Machineries of Joy: Wrestling with the technological sublime

This one is for my friends Rachel Shabi and Waleed Hazbun, who might recognise something of the pathos of our common paternal utopias in it… 11 February 2015 “Hyperbole is the main stock in trade of publicists, boosters and even … Continue reading

Posted in Allan Sekula, capital accumulation, empire, imperialism & colonialism, infrastructure, logistics, Middle East, political economy, readings, the sublime, transport, Travels | Leave a comment

A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes: The factory at sea

9 February 2015 20.00 “Going forward and glancing over the weather bow, [… the] prospect was unlimited, but exceedingly monotonous and forbidding; not the slightest variety that I could see.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick For the next few days, we … Continue reading

Posted in Allan Sekula, capital accumulation, labour, literature, Melville, Middle East, political economy, readings, seafaring, shipping conditions, transport, Travels | Leave a comment

Reading Capital 2 on a containership

8 February 2015 You begin to realise how much Marx actually crafted his writing when you compare Capital I to Capital II.  The former is beautifully edited, funny, extensively footnoted, erudite, and with a gorgeous narrative structure that inexorably push … Continue reading

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Grace: Departing Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk-Jabal Ali:  At last at sea 5 February 2015 11.00 Occasionally in the night, the ship bumps against the berth and that is when one remembers that one is not on solid ground. I can’t wait for our ship to … Continue reading

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On Battleship Hill

Marsaxlokk-Jabal Ali; On Military Logistics in the Age of Philip II 4 February 2015 What becomes clear in reading Braudel’s vol II about war-making is the extent to which your martial power really depends on your economic ability to supply … Continue reading

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Marsaxlokk-Jabal Ali: Surmises

How will I ever be able to return to life, “circumspect life” in Melville’s words, after that, the “delirious throb” of this research adventure? In his gorgeous opening to Moby Dick, Melville writes, “whenever it is a damp, drizzly November … Continue reading

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Stand-Up Beer Hall

Stand-Up Beer Hall Walter Benjamin Sailors seldom come ashore ; service on the high seas is a holiday by comparison with the labour in harbours, where loading and unloading must often be done day and night. When a gang is then given a … Continue reading

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