On the Backroads of the Global Supply Chain. Migrant Seafarers, Commodities, and Digitized Trade across Taiwan


 14:00 - 17:00
 Room 2B, Research Center for Humanities and Social sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei
Beatrice Zani (CNRS)

The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), Taipei Office organise the following conference:

Speaker: Beatrice Zani (CNRS)

Beatrice Zani is a sociologist, permanent researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)/ Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Economic Sociology (LISE). She also regularly teaches at Sciences Po. Her research interests include economic sociology, transnational migration, digitality, logistics and globalization. Looking at the functioning of Asian economies, her ongoing research explores the link between migration, digitality, and migrant entrepreneurship in the transformation of work and globalization.


Taiwanese ports are paradigmatic sites to observe the new shapes of our globalised economic system. If global corporations are mostly pictured as the major actors of the global supply chain, in this talk I look at the invisible actors who daily contribute to its functioning: migrant maritime workers, by large employed and exploited in the shipping sector. Drawing on ethnographic work in the Taiwanese ports of Kaohsiung, Bali, and Kinmen, I examine the social, economic, logistic, and digital resources Indonesian, Chinese, and Filipino maritime workers mobilize to cope with inequality. To achieve upward social mobility, migrants get ‘connected’. Using online applications, and cooperating with multiple actors, on material and digitized economic circuits, they trade ‘small commodities’ and produce novel transnational and digital economies. Through a focus on the invisible workers of the global supply chain and their daily experiences of global work, and informal commerce, this talk sheds new light on the diversity of global economies, and on the role of digital migrant connectivity in shaping global trade and globalization.

This seminar will be held in English.
Corrado Neri, Director of the CEFC Taipei, will chair the session.