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Geographies of Uncertainty: Space and Territory in the Operational Logic of UPS

The following article was first published by Volume Magazine in their 47th issue, The System*. You can read the Editorial of this issue, How Much Does Your System Weigh?, here.

For the United Parcel Service (UPS), space is valued insofar as it grounds the socio-technical assemblages that secure the company’s economy of speed. Holding one of the largest airline fleets in the United States, UPS’s services range from delivering cargo for the US Air Force and e-commerce packages to relocating endangered animal species and partaking in disaster relief. It operationalizes logistics in the space between military and civilian domains and from the scale of cargo for large corporations to small packages for individuals. UPS runs a global logistics network that crosses more than 200 countries and territories and delivers about 17 million packages every day through its planetary ring of Shanghai-Shenzhen-Anchorage-Louisville-Cologne-Dubai.[1] It participates in the making of trans-border infrastructural systems and influences national politics towards the lifting of legal barriers to transnational trade. Yet what makes UPS significant is not its volume of shipment, infrastructural capacity, or magnitude of operational precision, but rather its resiliency and acute performance within the tides of uncertainty.