Liang Wu

Liang-Wu-Liang-Wu student photo

Research Interests

  • Economic globalization, infrastructure, international trade, logistics, maritime studies, (im)mobility, modern capitalism, political economy, seafarers, shipping, supply chains, technology and labor

Subfield: Cultural Anthropology
Advisor: Karen Strassler

Liang Wu is a doctoral candidate in anthropology based in New York who has been studying the international shipping industry and seafarers' lives since 2006. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, and the Center for Engaged Scholarship, his interdisciplinary dissertation project is situated at the intersection of oceanic, critical mobility, and science and technology studies. It examines the meanings and lived experiences of contemporary seamanship that are integral to the transportation of 90% of global trade including everyday commodities. 

Through long-term engagement at the ports of Hong Kong, New York and New Jersey, fieldwork on board container ships, archival studies, and online ethnography, his research covers the technoeconomic, infrastructural, and legal developments of shipping in the postwar era, the concomitant changing society and culture of port cities and shipboard communities, politics of mobility generated by the global expedition of material goods and products, as well as the mechanisms and mediations through which multinational seafarers navigate their overseas relationships, job conditions, state administrations, and international law.

Recently appointed as a Waterfront Scholar at the Waterfront Alliance, Wu, through his work, sheds light on the lifeways of seafarers as humans at sea and essential workers sustaining societies and economies around the world, and reflects on the complex reality of globalization, supply chain logistics and politics, techno-capitalism, and labor. More information can be found at his LinkedIn: