Charmaine Chua on global logistics

Oberlin professor Chua discusses the links between carbon, capitalism, and logistics.

June 14, 2018

Recorded on June 14, 2018.

In the second presentation of the League’s sea shipping and climate change event, Charmaine Chua discusses the social and political effects of the global shipping network. She demonstrates that American consumption patterns and the immediate need for goods brought to our doorstep has created the contemporary system of logistics and shipping that prioritizes moving faster and carrying more cargo.

For a primer on the carbon impact of shipping (and aviation), watch a commissioned video by Professor Alice Larkin of the University of Manchester and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which was presented as the introduction to this session.

Chua is a Singaporean writer and assistant professor of politics at Oberlin College. She researches the politics of global circulation and explores three main intersections: the rise of logistics in capitalist world order, the politics of built infrastructure, and the colonial afterlives of global supply chains. She is currently working on a book manuscript that uses political ethnography to examine the transpacific container trade as a logistical economy of racialized containment and carceral violence.

Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Historical Materialism, Political Geography, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and the Journal of Narrative Politics.

As part of the The Five Thousand Pound Life: Transportation, Connection and its Costs: Sea Shipping and Climate Change was a discussion on rethinking transportation modes and their collective impact on greenhouse gas emissions organized by The Architectural League in June 2018. The series focused on air and sea in the spring of 2018 and will continue with two events on land-based transit in the fall of 2018.

The Five Thousand Pound Life is the League’s ongoing initiative to rethink our collective future through design in the face of climate change.


A conversation on spatial logistics

In the closing panel of the Spatial Logistics session, Alex Klatsin, Rob Holmes and Jesse LeCavalier join New York Times reporter Coral Davenport to consider how design intersects with logistics.

Five Thousand Pound Life Video 2014