Cargo in Question: Two Films about Labor, Shipping, and Globalization in the 21st Century

COST: [Cost is free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public.]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) presents “Cargo in Question: Two Films about Labor, Shipping, and Globalization in the 21st Century” on Thursday, April  20, 2023, at 7:00 pm. As part of this special event, Dr. Mae Miller-Likhethe and Dr. Charmaine Chua, assistant professors of Global Studies at UCSB, will screen two films—Cargo (2001, 29 minutes) and All that Perishes at the Edge of Land (2019, 31 minutes)—followed by a Q & A session and discussion (for a full 90 minutes). The films, which blur the lines between fiction and reality, offer important insights into the daily lives, working conditions, and dreams of the seamen and ship-breakers across global supply chains. Cost is free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public. There will also be a pre-lecture reception for members only from 6:15-6:45 and become  a member at

About the Films

All that Perishes at the Edge of Land (Dir. Hira Nabi, 2019, 31 minutes). Ocean Master, a decommissioned container vessel, enters into a dialogue with several workers at the Gadani yards. The conversation moves between dreams, desires, places that can be called home, and the violence embedded in the act of dismantling a ship at Gadani. As the workers recall the homes and families they left behind, the long work days mesh indistinguishably into one another, and they are forced to confront the realities of their work in which they are faced with death every day. How may they survive and look towards the future?

Cago (Dir. Laura Waddington, 2001, 29 minutes) is the story of a journey on a container ship with a group of Rumanian and Filipino sailors, who were delivering cargo to the Middle East. Most of the sailors weren’t allowed to leave the boat and they spent their days waiting, singing karaoke and telling stories in a small TV room. In Syria, the ports were military zones. The filmmaker hid at a porthole and secretly filmed the life below–a man stealing wood and a soldier fishing off the edge of an abandoned submarine–and later created a narrative that falls between reality and fiction. It was a way of showing the limbo these men were living in.

About the Speakers

Dr. Mae Miller-Likhethe, an assistant professor at UCSB and a Curatorial Fellow at IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture in Utrecht (Netherlands), is an interdisciplinary scholar, storyteller, educator, and curator who studies social movements, global shipping, and cultural production. As Dr. Miller-Likhethe describes her work, “I research the intellectual histories and political cultures of the Black diaspora and Third World Left throughout the twentieth century. I approach this work with a desire to understand the past and to draw lessons for the present.”

Dr. Miller-Likhethe holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from Ohio State University; studied at UCLA, International Institute for Research and Education in Amsterdam and the University of Bologna in Italy; and completed her doctorate in earth & environmental sciences at City University of New York. She has also been a visiting lecturer at Vassar College, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley before coming to Santa Barbara.

Dr. Charmaine Chua is an organizer, writer, and researcher who focuses on political economy, postcolonial development, and technological change, with a specific interest in the history and present of maritime and hinterland logistical systems. Chua’s writing has appeared in popular outlets such as Boston Review, The Nation, and The New York Times. Dr. Chua is currently completing a book manuscript, The Logistics Counterrevolution: Fast Circulation, Slow Violence, and the Transpacific Empire of Capital.

Dr. Chua holds a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Vassar College and a doctorate in political science from University of Minnesota.  Before accepting their current position at UCSB, Dr. Chua taught at Macalester College in Minnesota and Oberlin College in Ohio.

This event is generously sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe.

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