What can ports tell us about changes in the global economy?
The ERC-funded project PORTS will explore how global capitalism plays out in four maritime cities (Rotterdam, Piraeus, Singapore, Pusan) that are big in container handling.
Nearly all the commodities we surround ourselves with come to us, often from distant locations, via ship.
Most of the goods we buy nowadays are manufactured in Asia, and by extension, many of the busiest container ports are located in that part of the world too. Europe is increasingly playing a more marginal role here: Rotterdam, for instance, our continent’s most important port, is only the 13th largest port in the world.
Because maritime trade is so central to the functioning of the world economy, ports are great sites to investigate, if one is interested in the shift of the centre of gravity from the West to the East.