[csaa-forum] GCS research seminar, Friday 25 March: Ned Rossiter and Brett Neilson

Fiona Allon fiona.allon at usyd.edu.au
Fri Mar 18 13:04:47 CST 2011

Department of Gender and Cultural Studies 2011 seminar series


Ned Rossiter, University of Western Sydney

With militaristic origins, logistics emerged as a business concept in the
1950s concerned with the management of global supply chains. Today, the
complex task of logistics is aided by specially engineered computer software
and information technology (IT) tracking devices that facilitate the
organization of labour, storage and goods. This paper is part of a larger
study on labour regimes, IT infrastructures and questions of sovereignty
within maritime logistics and electronic waste industries. Particular
attention is paid to the operation of transnational shipping in and out of
Ningbo Port - the second largest in China and a close competitor of its
neighbouring port in Shanghai. The ship is a deterritorialized extension of
the nation-state. The management of labour and control of borders associated
with the maritime vessel serves as a microcosm for the problem of governance
for the territorial state. My thesis in this paper is as follows: When
situated in the era of the Cold War and Fordism, modern logistics is
strangely out of time. As a managerial science of flexiblization and
transnational flows, post-World War Two logistics arguably anticipated
post-Fordist regimes of the past 10-30 years. What, therefore, might the
circuits of control in contemporary maritime logistics have to say about the
future-present of sovereign states and the biopolitical management of

Ned Rossiter recently started a position as Professor of Communication in
the School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney. Ned is also
a member of UWS's Centre for Cultural Research. He has previously worked in
China, Northern Ireland and Melbourne.


Brett Neilson, University of Western Sydney

What kind of power is manifest in logistical practices? Historically,
logistics was one of the three 'arts of war' along with strategy and
tactics. But it has largely been forgotten in cultural and political
accounts of power. Similarly it has been neglected in critical studies of
globalization that examine how capitalist production and distribution have
been reorganized at a global scale. Revisiting Foucauldian arguments about
the evolution of power and recent studies of the metamorphosis of economic
space, this paper suggests that logistical infrastructures are actively
forming new kinds of polity. In particular, it argues that the complexities
of logistical life can be explained neither by theories that emphasize the
transformations of sovereign power nor by those that posit decentralized
modes of governance. An empirical study of semiconductor supply chains
coming out of China will show how logistics at once exploits and blurs the
differences between sovereignty and governance, exception and norm.

Associate Professor Brett Neilson is Principal Research Fellow and Immediate
Past Director at the Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western
Sydney. He is lead investigator of the transnational research project
Transit Labour: Circuits, Regions, Borders (http://transitlabour.asia).

Date: Friday 25 March 2011
Time:   14:00 - 16:00
Location: The Refectory, Main Quadrangle (downstairs from the Faculty of
Street: University Drive, University of Sydney

All welcome. Drinks will follow at the New Law School Bar.

Contact: Fiona Allon (fiona.allon at sydney.edu.au) or Natalya Lusty
(natalya.lusty at sydney.edu.au)

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