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 will examine such efforts in the case of shipping, the globalized industry responsible for transporting 90% of international trade, its decarbonization in theory and in practice. My method is mixed, mobile, and multipronged. It involves participant observation at the ports of Hong Kong and New York undergoing electrification and digitalization, aboard retrofitted and/or dual-fueled vessels, and across online decarbonization forums and platforms; media, policy, and legal analysis; and structured, semi-structured interviews with interlocutors in the government, research and development, industrial relations, and other relevant sectors. By scrutinizing these subjects’ narratives and practices 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 working 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 the human condition facing environmental challenges to inform and bring about a better future.