In the wake of logistics: Situated afterlives of race and labour on the Magdalena River

Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted aboard a cargo boat on Colombia’s Magdalena River, and on historical accounts of fluvial transport, this article examines the racial formations on which logistics depends. Logistics is organized around flows at the heart of capitalist modernity, which are made possible by labour regimes whose racial underpinnings have both persisted and changed over time. Tracking continuities and divergences in riverboat work along the Magdalena River, I propose that our understanding of logistics is enriched by attending to historical articulations of race and labour. Inspired by scholars who reckon with the afterlives of racial slavery as well as by those who track precisely how that legacy unfolds in geographically and historically situated ways, I propose the analytic of situated afterlives, which focuses attention on the persistence of racial hierarchies and on their perpetual instability.

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Volume 39 Issue 3

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