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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Nicky Gregson

Gregson, N. Performativity, corporeality and the politics of ship disposal. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2011;4:137-156.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper provides a posthumanist performative reading of spaces of disposal as sites of economic activity. Its empirical focus is ship breaking, as practices and political techniques. Drawing on the work of Donald Mackenzie, Karen Barad and Jane Bennett, it frames ship disposal as a boundary-making intervention in the world and as part of the demolition assemblage. The paper challenges the oppositional politics that characterise international debate about ship disposal. Through an articulation of the academic register and literary narrative, the paper develops a material politics of ship disposal which draws connections, rather than making distinctions, between labouring bodies in different parts of the world. It reconfigures ship disposal through a material politics that centres the proximate intimacy of human bodies, demolition technologies and vital inorganic materials, highlighting the importance of shared corporeal vulnerabilities, a biopolitics of occupational health and a material politics of globalisation where the long distance associations are temporal, of a ‘now’ and future-past ‘then’.