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Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Ports and the politics of visibility: An interview with Laleh Khalili
Author(s): Velez Serna, Maria Antonia
Stauff, Markus
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Keywords: containers
global economy
labor conflicts
Issue Date: 17-Jul-2023
Date Deposited: 7-Aug-2023
Citation: Velez Serna MA & Stauff M (2023) Ports and the politics of visibility: An interview with Laleh Khalili. <i>NECSUS European Journal of Media Studies</i>, 12 (1), pp. 31-67.
Abstract: In this interview with Laleh Khalili, her book Sinews of War and Trade (Verso, 2020) is the starting point to discuss how ports – through their material procedures and their media representations – contribute to the uneven visibility of the global economy and labor conditions. The book weaves a richly-detailed history of places along the Arabian peninsula that have been transformed by oil and finance, imperialism and nationalism, from the traditional dhow traders to the modern container ports and oil terminals. In the interview Khalili details how some ports have become a spectacle that enacts the technological sublime and caters to tourism, while also obscuring less attractive operations such as bulk cargo and scrap. Their managed visibility offers insights into the infrastructural power relationships they emerge from and reproduce. This was particularly salient in the context of supply chain crises during COVID, which also exacerbated problems of labour exploitation and the restriction of human movement. Ports can also be key nodes of protest through tactical interruption of capitalist logistics. Next to critical analysis, Khalili suggests literary imagination as a procedure that allows for a more complex understanding of the layered realities of ports.
DOI Link: 10.25969/mediarep/19743
Rights: This document is made available under a creative commons - Attribution - Non Commercial - No Derivatives 4.0/ License. For more information see:
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