Laleh Khalili, Sinews of War and Trade Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula – Verso, May 2020
On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A parade of ships full of raw commodities -iron ore, coal, oil- arrive in its ports, and fleets of container ships leave with manufactured goods in all directions. The oil that fuels China’s manufacturing comes primarily from the Arabian Peninsula. Much of the material shipped from China are transported through the ports of Arabian Peninsula, Dubai’s Jabal Ali port foremost among them. China’s ‘maritime silk road’ flanks the Peninsula on all sides.
Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and shipping infrastructures has meant not only for the Arabian Peninsula itself, but for the region and the world beyond. The book is the account of how maritime transportation is not simply an enabling adjunct of trade, but central to the very fabric of global capitalism. The ports that serve maritime trade, logistics, and hydrocarbon transport create racialised hierarchies of labour, engineer the lived environment, aid the accumulation of capital regionally and globally, and carry forward colonial regimes of profit, law and administration.