Category Archives: seafaring

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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A love story far from the sea

This beautiful little love story has some extraordinary bits about the Syrian revolution, the subsequent civil war(s), love, families, sectarian sentiments, and the sea: On the second day of Ramadan, I come home from work to find Jesus, Maalik, and … Continue reading

Posted in Middle East, ports, readings, seafaring, the sea, war | 4 Comments

“A foretaste of annihilation”

Joseph Conrad’s The Shadow Line is an odd novella.  A ghost story, a beautifully symmetrical tale, a strange little fable, or a metaphor for the First World War (as Wikipedia seems to say)? A young man is given command of  his first … 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

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“…for rivers and seas are not to be regarded as disjoining, but as uniting”

From Hegel through Schmitt to Foucault and onwards, there is a way of thinking about sea and land not as inert backdrop but as factors determining politics, history and the transformation of the world. Hegel’s The Philosophy of History is geographically deterministic … Continue reading

Posted in empire, imperialism & colonialism, militaries, ports, readings, seafaring, the sea, war | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The ship as the heterotopia par excellence

How wonderful is it that Foucault considers the ship the perfect heterotopia: Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that … Continue reading

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“a seaman in exile from the sea”

Do you remember that haunting Conrad quotation from Heart of Darkness that says “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a … Continue reading

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Sailing on dhows and working in the auto industry

  A facebook friend sent me a URL to a blogpost which introduced Sons of Sinbad by Alan Villiers…  What struck me was the contention that the book was “probably the only work of western travel literature that focuses on the seafarers of … Continue reading

Posted in finance and insurance, labour, Middle East, political economy, readings, seafaring, shipping conditions, ships, the sea, transport | Leave a comment

Poems about ships

The poem has a whiff (or more than a whiff) of orientalism about it – but I love the last verse: ‘Cargoes’ Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir, Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine, With a cargo of ivory, … Continue reading

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Seafaring Diasporas

 Turner, South Shields, 1823  My friend Isabelle mentioned the Yemeni community of South Shields to me (she also sent me that amazing Turner posted above).   Significant numbers of Yemeni seafarers, who used to work on British merchant vessels, settled … Continue reading

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