We couldn't see the shift of manufacturing to Asia and Southeast Asia if it weren't possible for those goods to travel from the Pacific to the largest markets in Europe and the Americas. We wouldn't be able to see the ways the US consolidates its power over the Western hemisphere, if it did not have the ability to put in place the Panama Canal, and institute rules and regulations that supported its own coastal trade while allow it to project its own maritime power overseas through transnational bodies. The maritime powers of every age - whether commercial or naval - are a reflection of the kind of capitalism, and the kind of imperial powers we have in that age.
International politics scholar Laleh Khalili explores shipping ports at the nexus of global power - where workers, machines and commodities operate under the dictates of the global economy, and the adaptive, expansive nature of capitalism itself.
Laleh is author of the book Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula from Verso.