Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Robert Wilson


Economic Geography;Environmental Governance;Legal Geography;Legal Political Ecology;Logistics;Political Ecology

Subject Categories

Geography | Social and Behavioral Sciences


In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the supply chain, people worldwide received a crash course in the importance of logistics when corporations like Amazon became a lifeline for many. Before this increased public attention, however, scholars in geography had shown logistics to be a highly political yet indispensable process in the operation of global capitalism. Much of this scholarship underscores how the logistics industry frequently operates at the expense of marginalized people, workers, and the environment. In this dissertation, I expand on this work by adding a legal geography and political ecology analysis—a legal political ecology approach—to examine the establishment of two logistics sites in inland North America: the Utah Inland Port, in Salt Lake City, as well as the CenterPoint and NorthPoint Intermodals outside of Chicago. Using interviews and participant observations collected at these sites, I argue that the logistics industry must enact various forms of containment—through legal enclosure, features in the built environment, and discourse—in order to assist in the movement of commodities. However, I also contend that these acts of containment ultimately fail as the adverse environmental impacts associated with the logistics industry inevitably spillover the logistical zones of containment. To make these arguments, I highlight how activist organizations scrutinize these forms of enclosure, and the paradoxical nature of containment in an industry that is reliant on the free flow of goods. Last, by illustrating the prominent role municipal and state law plays in the formation of logistics sites, I show how unpopular logistics projects get carried out against the will of frontline communities and the environmentalists, labor activists, and other groups who challenge the unfettered expansion of warehouses, distribution centers, and intermodal hubs.


Open Access

Included in

Geography Commons