Book Review – ‘The Mobilities of Ships’ by Steven Gray

By Steven Gray, published October 2020


This new edited collection, published by Routledge, is in fact a revised version of a special issue of Mobilities, an interdisciplinary journal. The journal is described as aiming to explore ‘the large-scale movements of people, objects, capital, and information across the world, as well as more local processes of daily transportation, movement through public and private space and the travel of material objects in everyday life’. As is somewhat given away in the title, this volume concentrates on these themes through the lens of the ship. The collection is edited by three scholars with backgrounds in geography, and stand at the forefront of studies of geographies of the maritime world, both past and present. The book itself is divided into seven chapters: an introduction written by the editors, and six self-contained chapters.

The introduction offers a succinct and clear survey of current literature of mobilities in general, and then moves on to situating the current volume within this work, before suggesting how the approaches seen in studies of mobilities can be used to further our understanding of oceanic spaces. As is the case with all literature reviews, the text can be rather dense, and for those not used to Harvard referencing, the style can be distracting. The remainder is divided into two sections. The first, entitled ‘Positioning the Ship’, convincingly argues for the importance of maritime mobilities, even in an age of supposedly annihilated distance through cyber technologies. To do so, the chapter highlights the crucial position that maritime movements hold as global connectors, in global capitalism, and in labour politics, recreational travel, and individual experience. In the next section, ‘Mobilising the Ship’, the authors suggests the importance of understanding the ship: how, why, and where they move, and what wider implications this has …

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Subjects include: Administration | Merchant Marines | Miscellaneous | Ocean Liners & Passenger Craft | Shipbuilding & Design

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