Inf02
Logistics, time and environment

Convenors:
Scott Lash (Oxford University)
Sophie Haines (University of Edinburgh)
Discussant:
Biao Xiang, Oxford University
Format:
Location:
Examination Schools Room 9
Start time:
19 September, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel examines the changing geopolitics of time, environmental imagination, and materialities in a logistics-culture predicated on managing flows of material and immaterial things through operations, platforms and infrastructures.

Long abstract:

Culture has often taken the form of gift exchange and - from the origins of industrial capitalism - of commodity exchange. But in our age of digital capitalism culture may be increasingly taking on the parameters of logistics. Logistics is not just a question of cultural mobilities; it is about the movement of things - material and immaterial, human and non-human - and the management of flows through operations, platforms and port(al)s, actor-networks; material infrastructures of instruments, telecommunications, concrete channels; and less-tangible infrastructures of tacit knowledge and standards. What kind of transformations of time are taking place in logistics-culture? Is the previously linear/Newtonian time of the commodity being displaced by the self-causing time of the socio-technical system? Is phenomenological time ceding to the externalization of memory as software and hardware? To understand the geopolitics of contemporary initiatives (e.g. One Belt One Road) we need to look to the stakes of previous instantiations. The relationship of infrastructures with environments extends beyond the ecological impact of logistics projects to the consideration of environments as infrastructures that render (ecosystem) services. How are environmental imaginations stabilised/contested in the infrastructural in-between of devices/practices that underpin resource use, environmental health, and disaster management logistics? We will look at movements of information, migrants, capital, environmental resources, and other goods in a logistics-culture and its historical precedents. If a previous age saw the temporality of beings (Newton), and the phenomenological time of being, perhaps we should shift our gaze from being(s) and time to logistics and time.