19.07.2023
107 MIN
English

Son[i]a #377
Charmaine Chua

download
timeline
00:01
08:41
12:07
16:20
23:06
25:14
29:26
41:31
47:04
53:04
63:16
69:40
74:35
81:12
87:51
91:31
97:53
Son[i]a #377

In 1956, Malcolm McLean patented the shipping container: a stackable, packable unit that allowed intermodular transportation of goods from trucks to trains to ships in an apparently frictionless supply chain that brought with it megaships and the promise of efficiency. There are two main versions of the story of the shipping container’s massive impact on global trade. The first, complete with winners and losers, revolves around the genius of an innovator and first-mover advantage, and presents supply chain capitalism as something of an inevitability.

But Charmaine Chua—Singaporean organizer, writer, and Assistant Professor of Global Studies at the University of California—argues for another version, rooted in Marxist tradition. In this second narrative, the containerization of the world can be seen as a counterrevolution intended to bypass the Global South after the 1955 Bandung Conference gave rise to plans for postcolonial economic sovereignty. Shipping containers are a means to bring about frictionless accumulation of capital and satisfy a “sociopathic demand for access”, in the words of Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, while breaking down any possible labour solidarity between workers and nation states and harming coastlines and the environment. 

Focusing on political economy, postcolonial development and technological change, Charmaine Chua’s interdisciplinary research revolves around logistical systems and how planetary networks of production and distribution shape the organization of racialized and classed divisions. Her work has taken her from the decks of container vessels to the struggle within Amazon warehouses, bringing her close to crews, longshoremen, workers and unions.

In this podcast, Charmaine Chua shares her research on the containerization of global logistics from the vantage of the Global South. Her journey begins aboard a container ship, embodying ethnographic observation and field work, as well as a radical rereading of the naval archive records of the colonial project. The mix of methodologies, experiences and data highlights the incongruities and the environmental, legal, and labour abuses that appear in the capitalist wet dream of efficiency in global trade.    

<p>This podcast is part of New Perspectives for Action. A project by Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the European Union. Co-produced by Sonic Acts, in collaboration with W139, Amsterdam</p>
<p>Conversation: Anna Ramos. Script and postproduction: André Chêdas. Sounds: RWM library music and field recordings by André Chêdas</p>
Son[i]a activism Charmaine Chua Creative Commons degrowth global south infrastructure logistics Re-Imagine Europe Sonic Acts trade unionism
related episodes
4 highlights
01.10.2021
65 MIN
Spanish
Son[i]a #338
Andrea Ballestero
more

Whether in her teaching or her participation in the popular resistance for universal access to water, Andrea Ballestero’s approach is a feedback exercise that completely blurs the division between theory and practice. Her work advocates a collaborative, feminist modus operandi on ethnography, as well as the affordances of the environment: be that an ecosystem, a regulatory agency, or 'the technolegal devices at the centre of these political mobilisations'. We talk to Andrea Ballestero about aquifers and amorphous futures, about imagination as an essential part of the academic research process, and about the potential of bureaucratic practices as cogs in a possible machinery of change—which does not necessarily have to involve large-scale global transformations.

see more show less
Son[i]a Andrea Ballestero Climate change Creative Commons extractivism political imagination Re-Imagine Europe water
27.01.2011
14 MIN
English
Son[i]a #119
Allan Sekula
more

Interview with Allan Sekula about the relationship between art and photography, about artistic activism, the role of the artist in the public sphere and "Waiting for Tear Gas".

see more show less
Son[i]a 2006-2016: our 10 most listened-to podcasts EVER activism Allan Sekula most listened shows in 2014 photography RIP
27.07.2018
43 MIN
English
Son[i]a #268
Jodi Dean
more

Jodi Dean talks about communism as a still-latent project, about the Party as a scalable global form, about dystopian municipalism, anamorphic ecologies, and liberal democracies, about Not An Alternative and Liberate Tate as examples of sustainable activism practices at museums, about desires, enthusiasm, and trust and about the emotions captured inside social media.

see more show less
Son[i]a #2018 most listened podcasts Communicative Capitalism Creative Commons Jodi Dean neoliberalism Re-Imagine Europe trade unionism
07.12.2015
45 MIN
English
Son[i]a #220
Angela Dimitrakaki
more

Angela Dimitrakaki talks about the new feminist critique, the limits of democracy, the wiles of post-capitalism, and the ambivalence of the commons. We also touch on the notions of radical curating and collaborative practices.

see more show less
Son[i]a #8M 2016 most listened podcasts AGF Angela Dimitrakaki feminism
Son[i]a #377 Charmaine Chua
Son[i]a
0:00
0:00
Son[i]a
Son[i]a #384
0:00
Podcast Title
Title of podcast
Son[i]a #384
0:00
34:58