Shipping Container Mobilities, Seamless Compatibility, and the Global Surface of Logistical Integration

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Abstract

Recent notions of surface emanating from poststructuralist theories posit surface as an ‘event’: expressionistic, restless, turbulent. In this paper I focus on a different idea of surface: one where the multiplicity of such restlessness is apparently immobilised. This perspective is tellingly advocated by the logistically driven movement of commodities on a global scale. Steinberg has argued that postmodern capitalism utilises a spatial logic that is redolent of earlier forms of capitalism, viewing ocean space in particular as a controllable void. Building on this debate, I set out to interrogate the construction of a ‘global surface of logistical integration’: those spatiotemporal mechanisms of control employed by the commercial logistics sector, which attempt to create an integrated and continuous global surface devoid of differences between ocean and land. In particular, the intermodal shipping container and its attendant apparatus of standardisation is taken as a paradigm of producing surface compatibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1036
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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