Sinews of War and Trade by Laleh Khalili

Sinews of War and Trade by Laleh Khalili

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From the publisher:

How shipping is central to the very fabric of global capitalism

On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A parade of ships full of raw commodities—iron ore, coal, oil—arrive in its ports, and fleets of container ships leave with manufactured goods in all directions. The oil that fuels China’s manufacturing comes primarily from the Arabian peninsula. Much of the material shipped from China are transported through the ports of Arabian peninsula, Dubai’s Jabal Ali port foremost among them. China’s “maritime silk road” flanks the peninsula on all sides.

Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and shipping infrastructure has meant not only for the Arabian peninsula itself, but for the region and the world beyond. The book is an account of how maritime transportation is not simply an enabling companion of trade, but central to the very fabric of global capitalism. The ports that serve maritime trade, logistics, and hydrocarbon transport create racialised hierarchies of labour, engineer the lived environment, aid the accumulation of capital regionally and globally, and carry forward colonial regimes of profit, law and administration.

“If the maritime industry represents the circulatory system of the modern global economy, then Laleh Khalili has offered us a uniquely insightful forensic assessment of how this capillary system took shape through history and the central role played by ports on the Arabian Peninsula. Sinews of War and Trade makes clear that these ports have been far more than just tacit intersections of international trade. They have played and continue to play a vital role in framing racial labour hierarchies, accumulating capital in specific hands, and reinforcing colonial regimes of profit, law and administration. Both lucid and nuanced, the book offers a masterful study in the ways that violence and security as well as licit and illicit trade, get negotiated in and by these ports. This is one of those rare pieces of academic research that is at once readable and accessible for the lay public while also making a genuine contribution to the relevant historical scholarship.”