The Gulf of Mexico is littered with oil platforms, bringing the scale of the extractive nature of the modern world into stark reality for us. And we, aboard the Avontuur, had great difficulty leaving the Gulf under sail as she does not sail well upwind. This left us sailing in seemingly endless circles, while the hurricane season was inching closer.
Veracruz marked a turning point in the voyage. It was the furthest port where we loaded cargo, after which our return voyage started. Leaving the Gulf of Mexico wasn’t easy, on account of fickle winds. The changing weather and extended time at sea had changed the mood on board, but we had little choice other than to work together to bring the ship, her cargo, and her crew safely back to German shores.
During the final stretch, from Horta to Hamburg, I realised how important collaboration and craft are in fighting the climate crisis. No one has the solution to this complex problem; only through collaboration can we build a better understanding of where we’re headed and how we can get there. There are certainly things we should stop doing, but the key to addressing the climate crisis is collaboration.
Ships are self-contained miniature worlds. Everything you need has to be on board, as one cannot simply run to the shops to get more. The sailor Ellen MacArthur has become a tireless advocate of the circular economy after retiring from her professional sailing career. We, too, realised just how finite shipboard resources are when confronted with rapidly diminishing food stores, which forced us to ration food.
Almost everything you consume, from your weekly supermarket trip to the presents you order online, arrives by cargo ship. Shipping is the engine of the world economy, transporting eleven billion tonnes of goods each year. Despite the clear environmental crisis, shipping emissions have doubled since 1990 to more than one billion tonnes of CO2 – more than aviation, more than all of Germany, or even France, Britain, and Italy combined. As the shipping industry is forecast to grow threefold by 2050, full decarbonisation is urgent to limit catastrophic climate change. To understand whether there are any realistic alternatives to the polluting status quo of the container shipping industry, in 2020, Christiaan De Beukelaer spent 150 days as part of a sailing crew aboard the Avontuur, a century-old two-masted schooner fitted for cargo. This book recounts both this personal odyssey and the journey the shipping industry is embarking on to cut its carbon emissions. It shows that the Avontuur’s mission remains as crucial as ever: the shipping industry needs to cut its use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will face excessive global warming and the dire outcomes that will bring. The book explores our path to an uncertain future. It argues that shipping symbolises the kind of economy we’ve built: a gargantuan global machine that delivers the goods at an enormous environmental cost. Merely eliminating carbon emissions or improving efficiency won’t solve the underlying issue. If we can’t make shipping truly sustainable, we can’t solve the climate crisis.
The enormous cargo ships that ply the oceans to deliver some 90 percent of everything we trade are more efficient than trains, trucks, and especially cargo planes. But despite the relatively low emissions shipping generates per unit shipped, the total emissions of the shipping industry exceed one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This is more than all of Germany. It even exceeds the emissions of all passenger aircraft combined. This raises the question of what can be done to tackle the enormous emissions of an industry that drives global trade.
After fifty days at sea since leaving Veracruz, we reached Horta where we were granted shore leave. Arriving on land amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which seemed to have superseded the climate crisis, left me wondering: where exactly are we collectively headed? And will sailing goods across the ocean help us get there?
Chapter 6 examines the definition of the expatriate as a temporary migrant through the work of the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) in The Hague. The chapter explores how the category is constituted and negotiated in the archival space, and what readings of migration, the city and the nation the temporary expatriate helps produce. The EAC defines the expatriate as anyone who lives abroad temporarily. However, the expatriate at work in the archival space does not abide by the category’s designation as the temporary migrant. Temporality emerges as key to the politics of the expatriate, but the temporary expatriate introduces both archival dilemmas and progressive potential. On the one hand, it achieves the discursive occlusion of past and present structural inequalities that centrally shape the migrations documented by the archive. On the other hand, it facilitates the collection and public availability of documents that aid our understanding of the workings of power and privilege, and release migration from its association with marginality which renders it a fertile proxy ground for racist politics.
Throughout, the book documents how the category expatriate has become ensnared in the politicisation of migration. The very fact that the expatriate is now understood as a migration category evidences the possibly increasing use of migration as a discursive, legal and everyday site of ‘worldmaking’ (Walters 2015), of articulating social subjects and producing social inequality. In the current conjuncture, increasingly bifurcated migration regimes demonise some movements while glorifying others. Such differentiated (im)mobilisation as a technology of governance depends centrally on ostensibly innocuous and technical categories and criteria. Migration categories are thus at the heart of the insidious ways that intersecting material and symbolic inequalities are enacted today, and any project for social justice thus needs to dissect and dismantle them. The conclusion further elaborates this argument.
What does expatriate mean? Who gets described as an expatriate rather than a migrant? And why do such distinctions matter? Following the expatriate explores these questions by tracing the postcolonial genealogy of the category expatriate from mid-twentieth-century decolonisation to current debates about migration, and examining the current stakes of debates about expatriates. As the book shows, the question of who is an expatriate was as hotly debated in 1961 as it is today. Back then, as now, it was entangled in the racialised, classed and gendered politics of migration and mobility. Combining ethnographic and historical research, the book discusses uses of the expatriate across academic literature, corporate management and international development practice, personal memory projects, and urban diaspora spaces in The Hague and Nairobi. It tells situated stories about the category’s making and remaking, its contestation and the lived experience of those labelled expatriate. By attending to racialised, gendered and classed struggles over who is an expatriate, the book shows that migration categories are at the heart of how intersecting material and symbolic social inequalities are enacted today. Any project for social justice thus needs to dissect and dismantle categories like the expatriate, and the book offers innovative analytical and methodological strategies to advance this project.