Hege Høyer Leivestad and Elisabeth Schober: "Forum: Past the Canal: An anthropology of maritime passages"

In this forum edited by Hege Høyer Leivestad and Elisabeth Schober, published in History and Anthropology various authors focus on maritime passages, their interruptions, and on the multifaceted figures that accompany them.

Past the canal: An anthropology of maritime passages

By Elisabeth Schober and Hege Høyer Leivestad.

This article serves as an introduction to the forum and its topic of maritime passages. Drawing on events like the blockage of the Suez canal the article shows us how the factor of time is perceived inside the world of shipping. Alerting us to our dependency on the just-in-time-delivery model that the technologies of modern logistics have enabled and lifted up as a world standard, and of the important part that maritime passages play in our everyday lives.

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The shipping container

By Hege Høyer Leivestad.

When the Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal, the megaship was carrying 18,300 rectangular, steel boxes on her back. In the weeks and months after the incident, the concealed contents of the shipping containers – stuck in legal limbo – captured global attention. Technologically developed in the years after the Second World War, the standardized shipping container has featured as one of the protagonists of the transformations in international trade. But the container’s logic of concealment and transaction has made ‘the box’ a common figure also in popular culture and social theory.

This essay interrogates the shipping container’s multiple repertoires by focussing on containers at work. By tracing how the shipping container moves through the port infrastructure this essay takes us from the Suez Canal towards another central maritime passageway: the Strait of Gibraltar. This essay reflects on the different scales at which the shipping container functions in the port: from heavy materiality to abstracted codes and units of measurement.

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Read more about the forum and the 33rd volume of History and Anthropology.

Published Aug. 8, 2022 1:35 PM - Last modified Aug. 8, 2022 1:35 PM