What is the role of the sea in globalized capitalism? In their new book Capitalism and the Sea: The Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World, Liam Campling and Alejandro Colás explore this question through a historical and geographical lens. In this book, the authors track the larger history of maritime commerce and pursue new understandings of the role of the sea in the global economy. In doing so, they illuminate the understudied maritime spaces, systems, and flows that underpin the global economy and create the foundations of global material circulation.
Just as containerized goods appear to flow seamlessly across the planet's oceans, internationalized and standardized certificates present seafaring labor as uniform and seamless. But underneath these certificates are the intimate and unequal entanglements of local masculinity norms, age, and kinship ties that sustain the maritime labor supply chain. In this article, we follow how three young, male seafarers from eastern India find ways to contain piracy risks at work and poverty risks at home, and their sense of obligation as men, sons, husbands, and fathers. By delving into the unequal conditions for industrial male workers from the Global South, this article demonstrates how containerized maritime labor commodities are not uniform but are dependent upon economic inequality and intimate kinship ties to be productive.