Logistical Territories // Lo Squaderno #51

Logistical Territories // Lo Squaderno #51

400 587 Into the Black Box

A new Issue of Lo Squaderno review has been published.

Into the Black Box edited it together with Cristina Mattiucci.

The Issue could be freely read and downloaded here.

Moreover we publish below the table of contents and the editorial we wrote.

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a cura di / dossier coordonné par / edited by
Into the Black Box & Cristina Mattiucci

Guest artist / artiste présentée / artista ospite
Michael Hieslmair & Michael Zinganel | tracingspaces.net


• Editorial
• Yair Rubinstein: Platform Economies and the Logistics of Urban Space: The Case of Deliveroo and its East London “Dark Kitchens”
• Michael Zinganel: Rhythms of Post-Urbanity: Road-Corridors, Nodes, and Networked Archipelagos
• Alberto Valz Gris: Tangling a bi-oceanic corridor
•  Nancy Couling and Carola Hein: Energy Logistics of the North Sea – a crowded industrial void
• Alban Mannisi: Weed Have Never Been Post-Modern. Note from the logistic oriented Australian planning
• Jonathan Silver and Alan Wiig: Turbulence, territory and global infrastructur]e in a new world (dis)order
• Alessandro Peregalli: Zone e corridoi logistici in America Latina
• Andrea Bottalico: Note sulla logistica portuale e i luoghi di transito delle merci
• Matthew Hockenberry: The Place of All Things: Shenzhen, Alibaba and the Oriental Bazaar
• Guillermo León Gómez: Reflecting on Counterlogistics in Panama
• Evelina Gambino: Beyond seamlessness – the making and unmaking of a logistical territory
• Nicolas Raimbault: Multiplication of logistics parks and invisibilisation of blue-collar workplaces in post-industrial metropolises
• Emiliana Armano, Daniela Leonardi e Annalisa Murgia: Piattaforme digitali e territori di resistenza alla precarietà. Un’inchiesta sulla contro-connettività dei riders di Foodora


The growing mobility is one of the main characters of our global present. It involves people, commodities, capitals, signs, languages. Mobility is something tangible that is directly drawing new territories. Territories are indeed more and more flexible and malleable according to the needs of the flows, as much as they are re-designed by new and heterogeneous practices of crossing and boarding. Similarly, new passages and new global corridors are criss-crossing the historical national borders putting into question the political spaces of National States; also the continuous building of new warehouses or logistics infrastructures, and the constant research of law-price and
exploitable workforces are redrawing, enlarging and fragmenting the historical urban perimeters. The unquestionable centrality of movements, flows, migrations, just in time and to the point logics, speed, flexibility, etc., is too often assumed as a “matter of fact”, and this limits in critically deepening the social relationships that
produce it, the specific forms of power that “create” mobility, the historical background leading to the actual scenario.

Starting from such a dissatisfaction towards the emerging interpretative paradigms of the “mobility-turn”, this special issue proposes the intersection between logistics and territory as an analytical perspective which produces a productive angle for an overall re-conceptualization of our understandings of the global present. Therefore, starting from the “logistical territories” perspective, published papers represent a series of gazes aiming to shape a debate, elaborate original coordinates, describe methodologies, empirical and theoretical cues. On one hand, logistics is an emerging critical theme, which is expanding far beyond the logistics sector itself (the companies, workers, and infrastructures for the movement of commodities). It is becoming a more general lens to observe and understand contemporary capitalism. Actually, the global supply chains and the global infrastructures, the logistics of migration,
and logistics as a vector re-organizing the whole economic mode of production, are making logistics an indispensable analytical tool. On the other hand, we pointed out that also the territorial transformations are another crucial
key vector to comprehend the shifting scenario of our present: tumultuous urbanscapes and the de-bordering of the territoriality of the State, the emerging planetary dimension and the continuous proliferation of new spatial shapes,
are profoundly informing the state of globalization processes. Therefore, our attempt has been, to put it simply,
to merge logistics and territory as a way to open up a partly unexplored research field. This is a research strategy to somehow “ground” mobility and exploring its concrete, tangible and material fashion, as a complex assemblage of bodies and technologies, infrastructures and power relations, economic and political dynamics. Exploring logistical territories is therefore proposed as a way for an overall re-orientation of the analytical and theoretical perspectives.
Logistics is drawing new territories, territories are framed by logistics. It is precisely at this intersection that the logistical territory is a more and more flexible matter, malleable according to the needs of the flows, as much
as it is re-designed by new and heterogeneous practices of crossing and bordering – which are directly questioning the dichotomy between inside/outside, local/global, and so forth. That pushes towards the creation of sophisticated
lenses through which interpreting this emerging features of global dynamics. This issue then collects a sequence of “pictures” of this ongoing process of logistification of territories and of territorialisation of the global logistics, presenting a polyphonic discussion which takes logistics as a category that allows to stress the new layers that affect, warp and redraw the global spaces and the global plots that are passing through them. All the selected papers have been organized as framed in three following sections, which focus specific subtopics.

The first section – Beyond the urban – proposes a complex re-conceptualization of the urban as category, by means a dis-location of the usual perspectives through which it has been framed. Digital platforms are becoming the new architects of an on-demand urbanization, as Yair Rubinstein shows in its Platform Economies and the Logistics of Urban Space: The Case of Deliveroo and its East London “Dark Kitchens”, completely turning upside down the usual conception of “the city” as something fixed, stable, described by the recognizable facade of edifices and squares. Michael Zinganel, who authored Rhythms of Post-Urbanity: Road-Corridors, Nodes, and Networked Archipelagos, tackles the same problematique, but reflects on it by an analysis far from the core metropolitan places. Focusing on the Pan-European road corridors, he demonstrates how a new geography of human infrastructures and (transnational) streetscapes is producing a radical shift (“post-urbanity”): suburban archipelagos and the proliferation of transit spaces delineates a dynamic polycentric model that is creating a new urban landscapes, that needs to be grasped in temporal terms (“rhythmanalyses”) rather than in spatial ones. Alberto Valz Gris, (Tangling a bi-oceanic corridor) and Nancy Couling and Carola Hein (Energy Logistics of the North Sea – a crowded industrial void) propose an enlarging of the picture. They conduct us to the extreme territories of urbanization and show how logistics is a globally urbanising force and how the interconnections and matrixes of the urban tissue are extended worldwide. Valz Gris in particular discusses a bioceanic corridor across Latin America consisting of a thick network of roads, waterways, railways, high-voltage power lines (along with their thermal, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants), mines, logistics areas and other spatial features. Couling and Hein concentrate on the space of ocean-borne energy logistics and its landside extensions around the North Sea, exhibiting how this viscous territory of logistics (both solid and liquid) determines a site of unfolding processes of extended urbanisation. Finally, the paper Weed Have Never Been Post-Modern. Note from the logistic oriented Australian planning, by Alban Mannisi, opens up
a discussion on the effect of logistical logics on a broader territory, pointing out the contradiction between the indigenous territorialization logics and the develop of Australian cities conceived as global logistics hubs, letting reflect about the accumulation by dispossession behind it and its unsustainability.

The second section – Shifting Spaces – sets up a continuous dialogue with the previous section through the adoption of a contiguous but different perspective. The focus of the contributions here is more on the actual transformation of
space at many scales. Silver Jonathan and Wiig Alan present Turbulence, territory and global infrastructure in a new
world (dis)order and elaborate a geopolitical analysis of the globalization 2.0 through the case study of China’s infrastructural and logistical ascendency. They prove how a whole set of dynamics is physically reinscribing space
into politicized territories aligned to a global power (with its respective corporate interests and their logistics networks). We are therefore confronted with a galaxy of airports, free-trade zones, logistics warehouses and data centres, port expansions and shipping canal upgrades, continent-spanning road, rail and fuel transport projects, that have all become hallmarks of an infrastructure-led attempt to secure competing national visions of capitalist growth.
Alessandro Peregalli’s article (Zone e corridoi logistici in America Latina) moves in the same pathway, exposing how the consolidation of a logistical rationality is hardly transforming the Latin American landscape, by the creation of
zones, enclaves and corridors, and through the deep influence of the Chinese orbit. Andrea Bottalico (Note sulla logistica portuale e i luoghi di transito delle merci) and Matthew Hockenberry (The Place of All Things: Shenzhen,
Alibaba and the Oriental Bazaar) present two situated case studies: Bottalico discusses how the classical logistics space, the port, is being transformed by the new economic paradigm that is making logistics a crucial part of the
mode of production, and what this is producing in terms of interactions between ports and their surrounding territories; Hockenberry leads us to the liminal site of the products of global logistical assembly – exemplified by the space of the Shenzhen markets in southern China – presenting it as a logistical territory borne from an Orientalist imaginary deployed as a discursive construct promising an approach to the otherwise inaccessible landscape of global supply chains.

The third section – Frictions and Labour – continues the discussion and intersects many of the previous scenarios by presenting two alternative perspectives on the logistical territories, both based on an observation about how logistics
works on the ground generating resistance, contestation and forms of counter-logistics. Evelina Gambino’s Beyond seamlessness – the making and unmaking of a logistical territory focuses on how technology, geopolitics, and labour, are entangled in the creation of one of the nodes (Georgia) of the most important logistical project of the new Millennium, the New Silk Road. On one hand, Gambino shows the logistical ideology underlying the project, that
of a seamless and smooth space that, however, needs a foundational violence to be shaped. On the other hand, the current logistics development in Georgia is presented with its amount of interruptions and frictions. León Guillermo Gómez operates a similar observation in Reflecting on Counterlogistics in Panama, focusing on Colon, Panama’s first port city. Gómez presents the processes that made the city spatially constricted by its becoming a logistical zone, but at the same time he reports how urban conflicts and struggles arise as a consequences. He also considers the variety of forms of resistance across many scales that begin to shape a counter-logistics politics, considering global logistics as a target in the struggle for the right to the city. The two other articles of the section are more strictly concentrated on logistics labour in its “classical” and “new” forms, in relation to territorial transformations. Nicolas Raimbault (Multiplication of logistics parks and invisibilisation of blue-collar workplaces in post-industrial metropolises) proves that logistics blue-collar workers are now dominant within the blue-collar social group in large urban regions, making the logistics zones emblematic blue-collar workplaces in current post-industrial metropolises. This paper explores the geography of logistics zones elaborating on a comparison between European and North-American city-regions. The logistics sprawl and the The subsequent home/workplace spatial mismatch faced by logistics workers results in a weak local anchorage of these blue-collars. Emiliana Armano, Daniela Leonardi and Annalisa Murgia (Piattaforme digitali e territori di resistenza alla precarietà. Un’inchiesta sulla contro-connettività dei riders di Foodora) discuss similar but diverse effect of analogous processes. Here the new metropolitan logistics expressed
by the increasing influence of urban platforms of food delivery is analysed by the specific effect of re-territorialization that such platforms are producing, developing new forms of eradication of the workers from their territory (that is more and more becoming an abstract logistical space). However, the article shows at the same
time how these new spaces are crisscrossed by unprecedented forms of resistance and organization, and how technology itself, far from being a neutral dispositif, is a battlefield. In synthesis, this issue presents a productive grapple of intriguing perspectives – that are connected and sustained by many common fil rouges profiling an engaging tissue of analysis. The new configurations of what we used to label as “the urban”, the radical  transformations of international and local spaces, the related forms of frictions and resistance acted by labour conflicts and metropolitan struggles, as viewed from the intersection between logistics and territorial transformations, let us discuss and give material for the interpretative categories. Therefore, even the general question of “mobility” could be relocated within a more complex plot. Moving from this view on logistical territories, which we argue to be crucial perspective on contemporary transformations, we finally hope to contribute to a broader debate and further reflections of these topics