Hernán Cuevas Valenzuela, Valentina Leal and Lucas Cifuentes
Fluctuations in ship movement and changing weather conditions produce variations in the landfall of ports and thus their labour needs. As a result, port activity has historically avoided establishing permanent salaried contract jobs because they would be inefficient or unsustainable for companies. Given the instability of the demand for dockworkers’ labour power, union struggles have aimed to regulate port work and protect access to available jobs. In other words, labour unions have tried to control the labour offer and distribution of the limited number of shifts among unionized workers based on organization through closed or union shops. La nombrada – literally the naming or the call – is the name this appointment practice takes in Chilean ports.
Hernán Cuevas Valenzuela
Valparaíso is a port city located in the Pacific coast of central Chile (33°S, 71°W), 116 km (72 miles) north-west from Santiago, Chile’s overcrowded capital. Valparaíso was originally named by Spanish conquerors simply as ‘the port of Santiago’, and for centuries it was only a port village.
The bay was well known for its seasonal storms. In this regard, the French traveler Amadeo Frezier wrote circa 1713 the following illustrative lines:
Generally, anchorage is only performed in one area of the roadstead that is in front of the fortress so that trade can be carried out easier and for the safety of the vessels. However, after all, this roadstead is not useful at all during winter time because the north winds, that go in without resistance, turn the sea so rough that many times ships have been seen to be blown to the shore.
There are no details of the particular facilities of the original port, but it is likely that it was some kind of basic infrastructure for berthing ships.
Can anything be made without extraction? Are there modes of productivity that do not transport materials out of one place and into another, and in part just by doing so, create derivative value? Where does the impossibility of ex nihilo creation leave us, as empirically minded, self-supposedly creative humans who wish to add something of our own to a common world; who offer up perspectives and render contexts in ways that we hope will preserve and service the integrity of communities, materialities and justice? Are the patriarchal, colonial, racist and exploitative roots of modern capitalism and empirical research so intertwined as to render the motives of everything we see, and make from that seeing, complicit with these common d(en)ominators?
Copper conducts. Not just a metallic alloy with high thermal and electrical conductivity, copper also generates powerful political and social discourses of industrialization and economic nationalism. Copper orchestrates imaginaries of modernity, which emanate from its material presence in the social and economic lives of peoples, nations, empires and transcontinental circuits of trade. Indeed, in countries such as Chile where copper has been central to both economic prosperity and experiments in government from cybernetic socialism to brutal dictatorship, the spectral qualities of this lustrous metal condition an epoch of copper modernity fused with capital accumulation. The materiality of copper, in short, holds an intrusive force that shapes both political regimes and social conditions. To the extent that copper commands a response, whether as a commodity object or symbol of capitalist futurity, one can attribute to this metallic form an organizing capacity of mediation beyond media.