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Accepted Paper:

Hamburg, ship to shore: navigating jurisdictional complexity in a tidal seaport  
Luisa Piart (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on fieldwork involving job-shadowing shore-based professionals who visit ships in Hamburg’s port terminals, this paper examines how these visitors navigate the material and legal enclaves of waterfronts at the shifting interface between the overseas, logistical supply chains and urban shores.

Paper Abstract:

While the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea clearly affirms the right of ‘innocent passage’ through territorial waters, ocean-going commercial ships are far from being granted automatic access to port facilities. What forms of legal, material and political speculation underpin the regulation of access to the waterfronts of Hamburg? The foreign-flagged vessels at berth have extra-territorial status that restricts the jurisdiction of German authorities on board. Additionally, given the colossal dimensions of the newest Neo-Panamax vessels, accommodating them entails constant infrastructural renovations such as ever-deeper dredging and dyke reinforcement along the Elbe River and wharf maintenance in port terminals located on former tidal marshes. Yet most commodities originate from (or are headed) overseas, and making sure they cross national sea boundaries smoothly is a vital issue for sovereign states. While the logistical revolution of containerization has led to huge modifications of port environments, it has also undermined conditions of work in ports and aboard vessels. A number of shore-based professionals from port authorities, state agencies, and private corporations regularly visit seafarers in order to facilitate port calls and maintain the paperwork on board. They know the port of Hamburg intimately. By describing the physical and bureaucratic hurdles that they experience when circulating around the harbour to the ships, I examine the speculative futures of cities by the sea. Based on my fieldwork with ship visitors, this paper is an exploration of enclave capitalism in its current material waterfront manifestation.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -