2018/05/30 – 2018/06/02 – Brussels, Belgium – 1st FinGeo Spring School

First FINGEO Spring School

30 May – 2 June 2018

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

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Local Organizers: Manuel Aalbers (KU Leuven), David Bassens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Reijer Hendrikse (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Michiel van Meeteren (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Advisory Board: Sabine Dörry (LISER, Luxembourg), Gary Dymski (Leeds University), Karen Lai (National University Singapore), Martin Sokol (Trinity College Dublin), Dariusz Wójcik (Oxford University)

Sponsored by: EUFINGEO, the European Financial Geography Network (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, click here), The Financial Geography Research Network (Regional Studies Association, click here)

Overall organisational outline: The four-day FinGeo Spring School is intended for a selected audience of early career scholars. The Spring School is preceded by the 5th FinGeo Global Seminar (28 – 29 May 2018) for a larger audience.

Location: The Global Seminar takes place in Brussels: a city that harbours both the high promises and extreme disappointments of European integration, a financial centre in and of itself, and a place which remarkable urban fabric carries the signature of decades of commercial real estate and financial interests.

Background and ambition: For decades, Brussels has been the European hotbed fuelling financial integration, culminating in the inception of the Eurozone at turn of the century, and currently exemplified by a push for integrated capital markets. As unofficial capital of the EU, Brussels is a key regulatory node in shaping European and indeed global capitalism, having increasingly become a hotspot for corporate lobbying, housing a growing complex of private associations, consultancies, firms, roundtables and so forth, dedicated to influence the many diplomats and technocrats constituting the so-called ‘Brussels Bubble’.

Over time, this regime has produced radically uneven socio-spatial outcomes, particularly in the Eurozone ‘periphery’. Greece is the epitomic case of how the ongoing crisis of financialized capitalism, amplified through monetary union, can destabilize a country, effectively resulting in the handover of executive power and sovereignty to technocratic (creditor) bodies. Greece’s fate, however troubling, is but an extreme version of what is observable across the Eurozone and EU. Augmented since the crisis, it appears that limiting political manoeuvrability is a structural phenomenon, as member states are confronted with a structural loss of national executive authority, and judicial and parliamentary oversight. Instead, technocratic bodies like the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank (ECB) have increasingly filled the political vacuum. As a result of this increasingly ‘financialized’ regime, it appears that European banks and capital markets have recovered from the financial-cum-euro crisis, and are once again seeking ways to further enclose the EU/Eurozone in its value extraction schemes.

Last but not least, Brussels is also the fulcrum where much of the forthcoming wheeling and dealing around the latest financial sector challenges will play out: as Brexit is likely to have substantial consequences for the geographical organization of the European financial sector (and particularly UK banks), the Brussels’ business services complex will be working overtime. But also the inroads of financial technology (FinTech) into the field of ‘traditional’ finance poses key questions to Brussels-based politicians, regulators and technocrats, some of which have clear geopolitical dimensions to it.

Target Group and Application Procedure: By application only. The registration fee is 250 euro and covers participation in both the two-day Global Seminar and the four-day Spring School, including lunch & refreshments. The targeted audience consists of Early Career Academics, i.e. Graduate/PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. While the focus of the Spring School is on financial geography, we actively seek to attract participants from cognate fields in economic anthropology, (heterodox) economics, economic history, economic sociology, international political economy, political science, etc.

Applicants submit a one page CV, a one-page motivation letter, and their (PhD) project abstract (250 words) to david.bassens@vub.be and manuel.aalbers@kuleuven.be by 15 January 2018. During the selection procedure, the organizers will pay attention to the individual academic qualities and motivation of the applicant. They will also seek to compose a well-balanced and diverse group in terms of gender, geographical background, and disciplinary training. We aim to bring together a workable group of Early Career academics. Selected candidates are expected to attend the Fifth FINGEO Global Seminar that precedes the actual Spring School.

Note that a limited number of bursaries will be made available for elegible participants of the Spring School. These are sponsored by the Regional Studies Association and cover up to 200 euro. Information on eligibility and applications via this form. Application deadline 15 January 2018 (please submit the form when applying for the Spring School).

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The First FINGEO Spring School aims to immerse Early Career scholars on site in the above-discussed complexity as a dystopian, yet equally empowering prelude to start unpacking the inherently socio-spatially uneven nature of financialization in Europe. The FINGEO Spring School offers an Early Career program aimed at advanced methodological training and reflexive peer debate that intends to aid the consolidation of an emerging global community of financial geographers. Therefore, the FINGEO Spring School offers an intense engagement with the particular research themes, theoretical perspectives, and methodologies that those studying the intricate relations between finance and space may encounter.

Methods Master classes

The Spring School will offer a 4-day program in and around Brussels. The Keynote Lectures from the Global Seminar will also serve as the backbone for the Spring School. We furthermore plan to organize Master Classes around a specific set of methodologies to “do financial geography”. Potential themes include methodologies to map cross-border capital flows, methodologies for elite research, methodologies to study social movements, methodologies to study financialization processes, etc.

Reading seminar and discussions

The keynote lectures and master classes offer different perspectives on financial geography that warrant further reading and debate in a number of Reading Seminars, which are prepared by the participants based on literature provided by the organizing committee.

Peer review sessions

The Spring School also offers Peer Review Sessions to present and discuss their own research, and we seek to challenge them to make empirical, conceptual, and theoretical linkages to the material offered throughout the program.

Career Development

The Spring School offers a platform for Early Careers to engage with senior scholars and seek mentoring as it comes to publication strategies, searching for funding opportunities, establish research collaborations, working across disciplinary boundaries, etc. A dedicated session will be organized to that end.

Social events, visits and field trips

Next to that, to fuel the debate, we seek to haul in empirical evidence by organizing a number of encounters with citizens, social movements, politicians, financial industry representatives, etc. through Visits and Fieldtrips.

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