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Accepted Paper:

All in the Same Boat? Navigating Social Inequalities Onboard a Contemporary Container Ship  
Johanna Markkula (Central European University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on research in sites of maritime governance and onboard cargo ships, the paper explores the intersection of maritime labour, maritime infrastructure and the marine environment. As concepts such as "blue growth" are mobilized to create value, the everyday labour of maritime workers is devalued.

Paper long abstract:

The sea is at the center of many anxieties and hopes for the future. Global warming, rising sea levels, increase in extreme weather events are all fears of a future that seems to be already here. At the same time, the sea and the maritime industries are key sites of action and potential for making the future world a livable place. Drawing on ethnographic research in institutions of maritime governance, such as the International Maritime Organization, Coast Guards and Maritime Industry Authorities, as well as with seafarers working onboard cargo-ships, this paper explores the productive and destructive potential that can be found at the intersections of maritime labour, maritime infrastructures and the marine environment. Combining political ecology and political economy frameworks, the paper considers the ways in which ships and maritime labour are at the forefront of technological developments that impact the environment in significant ways. As new, more environmentally friendly shipping technologies and practices are discussed and negotiated in international forums such as the IMO, and as new policies are formulated, the everyday realities of the workers who are immediately affected by these changes and practices are usually of less concern. At the same time, when things go wrong, it is usually these workers who are in the firing line, and have to carry the burden of responsibility. With concepts such as "blue growth" mobilized to create "value" in the industry, they also devalue and depoliticize the everyday work and destruction of workers' lives that such growth depends on.

Panel P059
Sea Economies: Labour, Infrastructure and New Techno-Environmental Horizons