Liang Wu

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 10582

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Wu, Liang (Independent Scholar) "Anthropology of Shipping Decarbonization: Politics, Power, and Policy of 'The 4th Propulsion Revolution'"

As different industries are launching technological initiatives to tackle climate change, this project examines decarbonization in theory and in practice in the case of shipping – the globalized industry responsible for transporting 90% of international trade.

My method is mixed and multipronged. It involves in-person and remote ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation at ports undergoing electrification and digitalization, aboard retrofitted and/or dual-fueled vessels, and across online decarbonization forums and platforms; media, policy, and legal analyses; and structured, semi-structured interviews with interlocutors in the government, research and development, industrial, and other relevant sectors.

By scrutinizing these subjects’ narratives and practices, opinions and experiences associated with emergent maritime innovations, I will analyze how their decarbonization visions and missions are shaping technological design, channeling capital, configuring labor, and generating socio-environmental (in)equality.

This project sheds light on the often-invisible individuals and institutions within the transnational maritime network of global supply chains, thus moving beyond the prevalent technology-centric mentality, landbound focus, and nation-state framework found in academia and society at large. It contributes to critical studies of evolving global capitalism and human condition facing environmental challenges to inform and bring about a better future.