Hege Høyer Leivestad: ‘We are the Sons of the Port’: Cargo and Kinship at the Strait of Gibraltar"

Departmental Seminar Series features Hege Høyer Leivestad, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stokholm.

The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!

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Photo: University of Stockholm


In this presentation I look at how kinship plays into logistics labour in the Port of Algeciras Bay, Spain. Algeciras is a so-called transshipment hub at the strait of Gibraltar, at the gateway between Europe and Africa, serving as a major transit point along global maritime cargo routes. This talk traces the recent historical transformations of the Port of Algeciras, showing how kinship relations have enabled global cargo transport in a state-owned port from when the American company Sealand arrived in the 1970s until today’s thriving container traffic run by two multinational terminals. This recent history indicates how kinship bonds have been constitutive for recruitment and work organization in the creation of a global port. Focus of this talk lies on the large collective of dockworkers whose family bonds and intergenerational access to ‘container capital’ are heavily criticized from inside and outside the port. Guarded by the powerful labour union Coordinadora, the dockworker collective is looked upon as a particular form of ‘aristocracy of labour’, primarily because of how jobs have been exchanged within networks of kin. By showing how workers’ lives have been shaped in alliance with the port, this presentation sheds light on the crucial- yet often understated – relationship between kinship and global capitalism. 

Research profile

Hege Høyer Leivestad is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University and affiliated researcher at London School of Economics and Political Science (2019-2020). Leivestad’s research has been concerned with the relationship between mobility and materiality, with a specific focus on Europe. Her current project Frontier Freight: Maritime Logistics at the Strait of Gibraltar is funded by the Swedish Research Council and deals with port economics, labour and global trade in southern Spain. Leivestad is the author of the monograph Caravans: Lives on Wheels in Contemporary Europe (Bloomsbury 2018) and co-editor of Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs (Palgrave 2017).

Published July 21, 2019 4:58 PM - Last modified Oct. 4, 2019 9:00 AM