Shipbreaking began as an accidental industry when an abandoned cargo ship washed up on Bangladeshi shores. The ship was stripped of its steel for quick profit, and a new found source of economy and resource initiated an urbanism reflective of a contemporary case of Patrick Geddes' theories of conurbation, megalopolis, and folk. Originally, these theories described the migration process of people from regional locals toward a larger metropolis, and in turn, these larger cities would thus begin to materialize in close proximity to one another, an image that Benton Mackaye would refer to as the creation of an "industrial wilderness." In the early twentieth century, when these terms were created, geographical location played a much larger role in the way that cities interacted, much more so compared to the present-day globalized world. The global metropolis no longer relies solely on its surrounding place but pulls from a global culture as workers move internationally, blending dialects and culture, and resources are drawn from unseen territories. In the case of the shipbreaking industry, imports consist of the breaking down of materials from another country's waste.
These further expansions of the metropolis outside of its physical limitation simultaneously create a network of migrating toxic substances, a network that we call bioconurbation. Heavy metals originating in the ship's paint, polychlorinated biphenyls in the insulation and cables, and asbestos in fire retardant substances migrate from the manufacturer, through various international routes, to finally settle in the ecosystem of the ships final resting place. The global megalopolis has the potential to effect foreign economies through trade tariffs, employment, or conglomeration just as easily as distant ecosystems are cross pollinated by heavy pollutants created in production. As ships in Bangladesh are beached during hide tide and stripped during low tide, the steel carcass, coated with toxic chemicals, is left exposed, only to leach contaminants into the ocean as high tide washes against the shores and mixes these chemicals into the local ecosystem. These chemicals are resultantly ingested by small marine life, such as plankton, and journey further up the food chain in a process called biomagnification, creating a network of chemicals between the ocean and marine life.
Our mapping theorizes this connection between locations of point-source toxic discharge from shipbreaking locations and their respective ecosystems, focusing on Chittagong, Bangladesh with the leading shipbreaking activity in the world. The mapping also displays a hybridized folk, caused by the cultural assimilation of migrant workers funneling from rural locations to populate the city of Chittagong in support of lucrative business practices that have been recognized as the source of Chittagong's parasitism.