In the postwar period, logistics has evolved to a science of circulation focussed on the planning and management of commodity flows. The seminar will explore the role of logistics for maritime capitalism, given that 90% of global trade is shipped via sea. We will engage with recent scholarship of Critical Logistics Studies that formulates theoretical formulations, methodological approaches and historical framings to describe the circulation of commodities - from the transportation of raw materials to production sites to finished goods for the final consumer.   
The rise of the logistics industry and science - which began in the late 1950s and peaked in the 1980s - has fundamentally reshaped global supply chains by organizing the movement of goods through new calculation of economic space and a series of radically transformative methods and concepts, including just-in-time circulation, lean manufacturing, and supply chain management. This "logistics revolution" has not only increased the speed and volume of the flow of goods, but has also qualitatively changed the rationality and ability to change the speed, location, and destination of products to meet fluctuating market conditions. The transformation of the logistics industry was accompanied by political-economic concepts such as flow, flexibility or just-in-time, which formed the ideological foundation of global industrial transformations. We will ask how these abstract economic concepts have grown out of specific historical contexts. We will examine the mechanisms, the periodizations, the socio-political imperatives and the ideological basis of the continuous material flow that has become the paradigm of our today’s economy.

Semester: SoSe 2024