2019/04 – Washington, DC – Paper Sessions Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG)

Paper session proposal for the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG)–Washington D.C., April, 2019

Session title: Changing political geographies of finance

Session co-organizers: Dr. Michael Urban and Dr. Stefanos Ioannou

Session outline: This session aims to bring together studies on the interlocking relationship between financial markets, financial institutions, politics and regulation. Recognising that financial actors do not function in a vacuum, but rather engage in continuous interactions with other actors in the economy, the session investigates the terms under which such interactions take place and discusses their outcomes. The session offers a forum to tackle questions on changing political geographies of finance—for instance: what do we, as social scientists, make of the political and regulatory response(s) to the 08-09 financial crisis? How has the spatial organisation of the industry changed since the crisis? Are financial regulators distanced enough from the financial industry to supervise and regulate it effectively? Have the systemic risks posed by ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks been adequately addressed or are we heading to another financial crash as the IMF recently warned us (Global Financial Stability Report, October 2018)? How is the financial industry responding to the political instability caused by the Brexit referendum? We welcome macro-, meso- and micro- analysis, interdisciplinary contributions and pluralism in methods. Papers from geographers, economists as well as political and other social scientists are welcome.

Please submit abstracts (max. 250 words) to michael.urban@ouce.ox.ac.uk no later than 1st of November 2018. Questions can be addressed to any of the session organisers.


Session Title: Finance for Development

 Organisers: Ilias Alami (Maastricht University), Adam Dixon (Maastricht University), and Emma Mawdsley (Cambridge University).

 The realm of international development is in a period of turbulent change. Neo-mercantilist and geopolitical considerations are being re-centred in donor strategies, in a context of a rapidly changing development landscape, and the partial fracturing of the North-South axis that historically framed mainstream development imaginaries and interventions. At the same time, a growing number of countries across the income spectrum have established state-sponsored strategic investment funds with a domestic development mandate to co-invest with private partners and other sovereign entities, bringing the tools of modern finance into contemporary industrial policy-making (e.g. India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund’s USD 1 billion investment agreement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority). Conventional development institutions have, for their part, re-centred private sector-led economic growth in their narratives, policies and partnerships, and signalled a move from ‘foreign aid’ to ‘development finance’. The growing buzz has been around drawing in vastly bigger financial resources by using overseas development assistance (ODA) to catalyse and leverage private sector investment on a massive scale. The financing slogan of the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘from billions to trillions’, and is predicated precisely on a world ‘beyond aid’. This deepening and expanding of finance and financial markets in the name of development entails partnerships with actors that were not traditionally involved in development finance, such as hedge funds, venture capital, investment banks, credit rating agencies, global accountancy firms, and financial intermediaries. These trends have occurred at the same time as incredible expansion in financial instruments, practices, and programs targeting individuals, households and small-and-medium enterprises across the Global South, and in the management of land, nature, infrastructure, land and energy.

 This session offers a forum to present scholarship exploring the emerging geographies of finance and development that result from the messy articulation and tensions between these developments across, within, and beyond the Global South. In particular, we welcome contributions exploring:

 ·         The role of hybrid state-capital organizations (strategic investment funds, sovereign wealth funds, ‘marketized’ state-owned companies, development banks) in financing development.

 ·         The increasing role of private financial actors (such as hedge funds, venture capital, investment banks, credit rating agencies, global accountancy firms, financial intermediaries, etc.) in financing development. 

 ·         The growing role of financial logics, practices, and instruments in development.

 ·         The protracted and contested re-purposing of ODA, the transformation of traditional DFIs, and new partnerships with private financial actors, and private development actors.

 ·         The discourses, narratives and rationales for the legitimation of finance in development: ‘patient capital’, blended finance, social impact, green bonds, etc. ‘doing well while doing good’

 ·         The role of aid and other forms of state support in the opening of new circuits of financial investments in emerging markets, frontier markets, and peripheral spaces of global finance, and in ‘de-risking’ private financial investment. 

 ·         Tensions between national and geopolitical interests, and the expansion of finance and market development.

 The organisers will also be inviting representatives from outside academia (e.g. think tanks; DFIs; financial services) as panel discussants who are engaged with financing for development.

 Please submit paper abstracts (max. 250 words) to Ilias Alami (ilias.alami@maastrichtuniversity.nl) no later than 22 October 2018. Specific questions regarding the session can be addressed to any of the organizers.


Session Title: Post-Crisis Fiscal Geographies: A Retrospective on the 10th Anniversary of the Global Financial Crisis

Organizers: Kelly Kay (UCLA) and Renee Tapp (Harvard University)

Sponsored by: Political Geography Specialty Group

Ten years ago when the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed, tax and fiscal policies became implicated in the crisis that spread across the United States to Europe (Wainwright 2013).  National governments drew on taxpayer money and other fiscal levers to prop up failing banks and financial institutions, and to intervene in bankrupt cities.  Just one short decade later, US President Donald Trump announced record quarterly GDP growth of 4.2% (BEA 2018); while cities once teetering on the edge of fiscal calamity, seem to be emerging as the new icons of revitalization (Kinney 2016, Peck and Whiteside 2016, Akers 2015, Davidson and Ward 2014).  Economists speculate that recent growth and reinvestment in the US can be attributed to monetary and fiscal policy decisions like cuts to corporate and individual tax rates and very low interest rates (McKinsey Global Analytics 2018, Blinder and Zandi 2010).  Despite the overall total growth in the economy, the post-crisis period has been rocky.  Since 2008, scholars have drawn attention to record levels of inequality (Federal Reserve 2017), tax evasion and accumulation (Aalbers 2018), emergent social movements (Fields 2017), and the concentration of profits in the same sectors of the US economy where the crisis originated ten years ago (Christophers, Leyshon, and Mann 2017, Ashton and Christophers 2016).

In this retrospective session, we focus on the “fiscal geographies” (Tapp and Kay forthcoming) of the crisis and recovery. We seek to bring together scholars working on a broad range of topics related to post-crisis political economy in order to better evaluate the impacts of state fiscal policies and financial regulations, across all scales of governance.  We invite papers that make empirical engagements or theoretical interventions that consider how states and capital have come to be differentially oriented since the 2008 crisis. Possible themes include but are not limited to:

•       New geographies of financial bubbles

•       Case studies of companies or industries that received bailouts

•       Geographies of wealth concentration and debt

•       Legacies of austerity

•       Restructuring of the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector since the crisis

•       Stock buybacks, regulations, or other innovations in banking

•       Reconfigurations of nature-state-society relations since the crash

•       New/changing patterns of property-led accumulation

•       Urban governance and fiscal balance sheets (accounting systems, interest rates, credit scores, service delivery)

•       Impacts of particular tax policies, regulation, and legislation on accumulation, including those that span the urban/rural divide

•       Gendered or raced experiences of post-crisis state or economic institutions

Please send 250 word abstracts to kellykay@ucla.edu and ctapp@gsd.harvard.edu by October 15, 2018. Depending on interest, we may also put together a panel on this topic. If you would be interested in participating in an alternative capacity (paper discussant, panelist), please feel free to reach out.


Akers, J. 2015. Emerging City Market. Environment and Planning A 47(1): 1842-1858.

Aalbers, M. 2018. Financial geography I: Geographies of tax.  Progress in Human Geography: 0309132517731253.

Ashton, P., and Christophers, B. 2018. Remaking mortgage markets by remaking mortgages: US housing finance after the crisis. Economic Geography 94(3): 238-258.

Blinder, A.S. and Zandi, M.M. (2010). How The Great Recession Was Brought to an End. Moody’s.https://www.princeton.edu/~blinder/End-of-Great-Recession.pdf

US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). 2018. US Economy at a Glance. https://www.bea.gov/news/glance

Christophers, B., Leyshon, A., and Mann, G. 2017. Money and Finance After the Crisis: Taking Critical Stock. Money and Finance After the Crisis: Critical Thinking for Uncertain Times, 1-40.

Davidson, M. and Ward, K., 2014. ‘Picking up the pieces’: austerity urbanism, California and fiscal crisis. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 7(1): 81-97.

Federal Reserve. 2017. Changes in US Family Finances from 2013 to 2016: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances.https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/scf17.pdf

Fields, D. 2017. Urban struggles with financialization. Geography Compass 11(11): e12334.

Kinney, R. 2016. Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

McKinsey Global Analytics. 2018. A Decade After the Global Financial Crisis: What Has (and Hasn’t) Changed?https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/a-decade-after-the-global-financial-crisis-what-has-and-hasnt-changed

Peck, J., and Whiteside, H. 2016. Financializing Detroit. Economic Geography 92(3): 235-268.

Tapp, R., and K. Kay (forthcoming). Fiscal Geographies: “Placing” Taxation in Urban Geography.

Wainwright, T. 2013. Which crisis? The need to understand spaces of (non) tax in the economic recovery. Environment and Planning A45(5): 1008-1012.


Session Title:  Realising transformative climate economies? The place(s) of green finance in the Anthropocene

 Organizers:        Bregje van Veelen (Durham University), Mark Cooper (University of California, Davis), Richard Lane (Utrecht University)

 Discussants:     Sabine Dörry (LISER, Luxembourg)


This session aims to explore the cultural and political economy of green finance and its place in social and environmental transformations.  We seek papers that examine the place of finance in the construction of diverse or transformative climate economies and the ways in which finance and its governance might contribute to – or hinder – a “new economic ethics for the Anthropocene” (Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2010, 343).

 The Paris Agreement prioritizes finance as a core component of the global response to climate change.  This focus on making finance work for climate change has contributed to the emergence of a range of new green finance initiatives, yet the role finance might play in social and environmental transitions and the emergence of diverse or transformative economies remains unclear. The existing literature on the cultural and political economy of green finance remains modest relative to the scale of the speed at which the issue has developed, and the transformative potential of remaking finance. Similarly, there is significant diversity within the forms of green finance and the places through which its flows, which is underexplored.

 In this session we seek to bring critical cultural and political economy approaches to bear on these emergent forms of finance. We are particularly interested in works that seek to “dislocate the hegemonic framing of capitalism” (Gibson-Graham 2008) to understand the role(s) of green finance in fostering diverse or transformative economies (see also Dörry and Schulz 2018). This includes work from the diverse economies approach, which challenges assumptions that the economy is inherently capitalist, a determining force rather than a site for transformation, and is separable from ecology (Gibson-Graham 2008; Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2010). At the same time, we welcome papers that draw on critical approaches (e.g. Polanyian, performativity, pragmatics) that consider or critique the potential of the diverse economies concept for understanding emerging configurations of green finance.

 We therefore invite both conceptual and empirical contributions that seek to analyse the intersection between green finance and transformative/diverse economies to understand emerging climate economies. Questions could include, but are not limited to:

  • How does green finance contribute to the establishment of diverse relations – or complicate existing diverse relations – of production, labour and exchange?
  • How do the diverse debt relations of green finance manifest themselves in different places?
  • What role do metrics, indices, standards, and expertise play in supporting or obscuring difference/diversity in new financial relations?
  • What actors are at the heart of establishing new financial relations that can contribute to the establishment of diverse economies?
  • What financial struggles are taking place in particular places that are (re)defining what our economy is and who it is for, in a climate-challenged world?
  • How is finance engaged in the materialisation of new forms of ‘the economy’ (Mitchell 2002; 2008) through technologies of calculation and representation?

 We also welcome reflective contributions that consider for example the following questions:

  • How can our research open up new possibilities? What role can different theoretical approaches play?
  • Is a diverse economies lens a suitable approach to build a political research agenda for climate finance? What are its limitations?
  • What transformative potentials are present in finance not explicitly labelled green? How does finance in housing, transportation, food, mining, and energy contribute to new climate economies?

 Multiple sessions may be organized if there is sufficient interest.  To aid the discussants for this session, presenters will be asked to submit a written paper several weeks before the conference. 

 We welcome expressions of interest of questions at any time.  Abstracts (250 words maximum) should be sent to Bregje van Veelen (bregje.van-veelen@durham.ac.uk) by October 18.  We will confirm participation by October 19.  Those accepted must complete the abstract submission and conference registration process before October 25.


Dörry and Schulz 2018 Green financing, interrupted. Potential directions for sustainable finance in Luxembourg. Local Environment. 23(7), 717-733

Gibson-Graham 2008 Diverse economies: performative practices for `other worlds’. Progress in Human Geography. 32(5), 613-632.

Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2010 An Economic Ethics for the Anthropocene. Antipode. 41(s1), 320-346.

Mitchell 2002 Rule of Experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. University of California Press.

Mitchell 2008 Rethinking Economy. Geoforum. 39(3), 1116-1121.

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