Johanna Markkula joined the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology as Assistant Professor in 2022. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University in 2019. Prior to joining CEU she was Postdoctoral Fellow in the project “Dis-assembling the Life Cycle of Containerships: Ethnographic Explorations into Maritime Working Lives” at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.
Johanna’s research is an anthropological study of global mobile labor in the context of the maritime industry, and of the sea as a social, political and legal space that is at the very foundation of global capitalism. Her work critically explores the transformation of labor, technology and infrastructure in shipping, such as shifts in shipbuilding, logistical technologies, mobility regulations and maritime labor politics. In order to trace these changing labor politics and practices within the shipping industry and their effects on the everyday life of maritime workers, she has carried out long-term ethnographic research by working as crew on board cargo ships of various types, flags, and crew compositions. She has also carried out institutional ethnography with organizations of maritime governance such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) in the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, as well as with seafarer unions, manning agencies and training centers, both in the Philippines and in various European countries. Her research shows how contemporary cargo ships are deterritorialized mobile worksites that reproduce global inequalities, colonial relations and racialized power structures within the micro-society of the ship, and how crewmembers of different backgrounds navigate, negotiate, resist or actively maintain these relations in the highly confined social worlds onboard. With ninety percent of the world’s goods being transported by sea, the maritime industry and the racialized inequalities of its workforce are key for producing and reproducing global capitalism. Her research thus contributes to debates on the political economy of oceanic circulation of capital and labor, postcolonial relations, intercultural (mis)communication and mobility studies.
Johanna is presently working on a monograph, Moving Worlds: Maritime Work and Life on the Social Ocean.