Liang Wu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9867

Approve Date

May 1, 2019

Project Title

Wu, Liang (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Humans at Sea: Mobilities and Immobilities of Seafarers Working in the International Shipping Industry"

This maritime ethnographic research studies the lived experiences and meanings of mobility and immobility of contemporary seafarers working on board ocean-going container ships of the international shipping industry. Transporting 90% of international trade and supporting lives worldwide, seafarers are ironically disconnected from the world. Their restricted shore leave and lack of phone and Internet services at sea among other forms of immobility, coupled with shipping businesses’ incessant pursuit of hyper-efficiency, mean that seafarers are moving faster and further while also becoming increasingly isolated and moored to their ships. At the same time, seafarers are obscured not only by logistics, but also by the terracentrism and prioritization of mobility in both popular and academic understandings of globalization. This project aims to rectify such theoretical and ethnographic oversights by shedding light on the maritime lifeways of seafarers as humans at sea, and the complex dynamics between mobility, immobility, and mooring embedded in seafaring and the subject making of seafarers. It re-centers ships at sea and ports as overlooked but quintessential sites of globalization, and seafarers as understudied workers whose bodies articulate the inter-constitutive linkages between land and sea, and whose lives are at stake in propelling the material hypermobility of the world.