MSc Napoli Shipwreck: 10 years on

wpfc3c9ee5_0fIn January 2007, the container ship MSC Napoli was run aground in rough seas off the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in South West England. The unfolding drama of oil spillage, containers washing up on shore and their contents being salvaged near the village of Branscombe was international news. The wreck and its aftermaths was also researched in incredible detail by a well established local history group called the Branscombe Project whose members produced and exhibited original art work in response to it. Much has been written by journalists and academics about the Napoli, and artists (notably Melanie Jackson) have drawn it into their work.  But it’s the inside story that emerges from this local research is perhaps the most interesting. At the end of her often-given talk, Barbara Farquharson – formerly an academic archaeologist and anthropologist and member of the Branscombe Project – has said that:

“When you think about it, the creation of World Heritage Sites are part of a global phenomenon involving the creation of iconic places that are both physical and cultural. So in a curious way the beaching of the Napoli hits the cross-wire between global cultural and environmental and economic and political issues” (Farquharson 2009, np).

The Napoli wreck is a brilliant insight into the geographies of material culture, the out of sight geographies of trade, and ways in which art and social science can make sense of its complexities. So the Napoli at Branscombe is worth revisiting for anyone who’s fascinated by these issues. We end with a reading list:

Marcus Bastos (2010) Algunas notas sobre economía, en un mundo de geografías celulares. in Giselle Beiguelman & Jorge La Ferla (eds.) Nomadismos technológicos dispositivos móviles, Usos masivos y prácticas artísticas. Madrid: Fundación Telefónica25-38

Liam Connell (2012) The worker as revenant: imagining embodied labor in contemporary visualizations of migration. Social text 30(2), 1-20

Ian Cook & Divya Tolia Kelly (2010) Material geographies. in Hicks D, Beaudry M (eds.) Oxford handbook of material culture studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 99-122

Tim Cresswell & Craig Martin (20) On turbulence: entanglements of disorder and order on a Devon beach. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 103(5) 516-529

Barbara Farquharson (2009) The wreck of the Napoli: ways of telling. Branscombe: The Branscombe Project

Richard Glover (2010) Can dishonesty be salvaged? Theft and the grounding of the MSC Napoli. Journal of criminal law 74, 53–76

David House (2014) Marine emergencies: for masters and mates. London: Routledge

Melanie Jackson (2010) The UndesirablesPostcolonial studies 13(2), 150-153

Alexander Klose (2009) The container principle: how a box changes the way we think. London: MIT Press

Craig Martin (2016) Shipping container. London: Bloomsbury


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