Hybrid seminar/webinar: Elisabeth Schober: “Of Terraqueous Spaces and Waterborne Capitalism. Speculations in Shipbuilding and its Effects on Subic Bay in the Philippines.”

12:15 to 16:00

The Departmental Seminar Series features Elisabeth Schober, Assistant professor at the department of social anthropology at the University of Oslo.

The world’s seas and oceans are arguably our largest commons: hard to control, impossible to fence off, and yet heavily contested, they have often encouraged risk-taking among the people engaging with them. Land, and the various property regimes it has given rise to, is frequently thought in opposition to these fluid terrains.

By looking at shipbuilding, an industry sat at the very boundary between sea and land, I will first engage with recent work around “terraqueous territoriality” (Campling and Kolas 2017; Chalfin 2019), a notion which highlights distinct forms of sovereignty, territory and capitalist appropriation at the interfaces between sea and water. Secondly, by building on ethnographic fieldwork in Subic Bay in the Philippines, I will look at this location’s recent unsuccessful incorporation into the world of South Korean shipbuilding. Subic, I will argue, is a coastal area with a distinct post-colonial history that became a speculative space for the maritime industry in part due to the recent rise of ultra-large container vessels as the new “workhorses” of globalization.