Logistik der imperialen Lebensweise : Zur Weltökologie maritimer Güterketten [Logistics of the imperial way of life : on the world ecology of maritime commodity chains]

OUMA Stefan, 2021

Name of publisher/editor

Mandelbaum Verlag


Julian Stenmanns , Stefan Ouma

Geographic area


Summary & key words


Goods we consume cross many borders. Clothing, food, computers, cars, medicines, services, and more are produced in global commodity chains. These link working, production and living conditions in North and South. This volume sheds light on the organization and power structures of globally dispersed production processes and asks about the consequences for society, the environment and development. The contributions in the book deal with corporate power, financialization, the role of supermarkets, transport and environmental costs, working conditions and conflicts, and approaches to regulating global commodity chains. Case studies and digressions illustrate the complex subject matter.

In this paper, we focus on issues of maritime logistics, cargo shipping and their global ecology. In doing so, we take up one of the founding texts of commodity chain research by Hopkins and Wallerstein. In the period they studied between 1590 and 1790, ships already constituted the essential infrastructure of commodity exchange and the international division of labor (Hopkins/Wallerstein 1986: 163). They were central mediators of the emerging imperial-colonial division of labor in merchant capitalism and laid a foundation for the shape of the contemporary world (Hasty/Peters 2012: 661). Historian and geographer Jason Moore also gives a prominent place to ships and the shipbuilding chain-in his words, the « production of the means of production » (Moore 2010: 193).