EGRG at Postgrad Mid-Term Conference 2017

RGS-IBG Postgraduate Mid-Term Conference: Economic Geography Research Group Reception: Wed 19 April 2017 16:00

The Economic Geography Research Group (EGRG) of the RGS hosted a reception for postgraduates attending the Mid-Term Conference. They also engaged with EGRG postgrad rep Amy Horton, alongside EGRG Chair James Faulconbridge and Crispian Fuller about their pathways into working in the field, and how to get involved in the Research Group.

The EGRG also sponsored three bursaries for students attending the conference, and you can read about the experiences of award winners Felipe Irarrazava (University of Manchester) and Justyna Prosser (Cardiff University) here

About the RGS-IBG Postgrad Mid-Term Conference:

The 2017 RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference was held over the 19th – 21st April 2017. It was hosted by a team of PhD students based in the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University.

This event was a great opportunity for PhD and Masters geography students to present their research and discuss ideas with their fellow postgraduates in a relaxed and  friendly environment. In addition, there were keynote talks from prominent geographers at Cardiff University and workshops covering a range of essential skills. The conference also provided plenty of opportunities to network with postgraduate geographers from all corners of the discipline.  For more information see:

About the Economic Geography Research Group:

Join the EGRG to become part of an active network of economic geographers. Find out more about our work, including sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG conference and the prizes we offer for postgraduate research:


Honouring Ray Hudson

Honouring Ray Hudson: reflecting on four decades of contribution to economic geography

Organised by the Economic Geography Research Group and sponsored by European Urban and Regional Studies

RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London, 1 Sept 2016.

The EGRG was pleased to honour Ray Hudson’s major contributions to economic geography during the past four decades. Four panellists offered personal and professional reflections on these contributions and their legacy for economic geography, both with reference to past and present academic and public policy debates:

Steve Musson (University of Reading, UK)

Roger Lee (Queen Mary University of London, UK)

Costis Hadjimichalis (Harokopio University, Greece)

Huw Beynon (Cardiff University, UK)

Diane Perrons (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)



Kelly Kay (LSE) reports on SIEG2016 Kentucky

The EGRG was pleased to support Kelly Kay (LSE) to attend the Summer Institute in Economic Geography at Kentucky University this summer.  Kelly was awarded £175 towards her travel costs. A reports on her time at the Summer Institute can be found below.

Report on the Summer Institute for Economic Geography, 2016
Kelly Kay, LSE Fellow in Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

From July 10-15 of this year, I had the pleasure of attending the Eighth Annual Summer Institute in Economic Geography (SIEG). The gathering took place at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and was organized by a very engaged and welcoming committee of faculty members. Each day was scheduled with a mixture of panel discussions, plenary lectures, and field trips. I was fortunate to see four diverse and interesting plenary lectures from Beverly Mullings, Jane Pollard, Neil Coe, and Gavin Bridge. Panel discussions ranged from theory to practice. There were conversations specific to the sub-discipline, its identity, future, and methods. There were discussions about practicing economic geography, which engaged topics like teaching, publishing in the subdiscipline, and navigating the job market. There were also a number of more theoretical, thematic panels around particular topics (e.g. markets, finance, nature). Field trips brought the participants out into the community to acquaint us with some of Lexington’s local industries (including horse racing, bourbon distilling, and automobile assembly), and to learn about the particular role that Kentucky plays in the global economy.

In addition to the formal programming for the week, SIEG was immensely rewarding because of the ample opportunities to build community and interact in more informal ways. Over the course of the week, I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet other economic geographers from around the world and to learn about their work and their experiences. Over dinners at faculty members’ houses, lunch breaks, and trips to the pub, the participants built relationships that, and by the end of the week, we came to feel like a cohort of colleagues and friends. In my experience, it is rare to forge such bonds in a conference setting, and for this, I think that the Summer Institute is a really unique and wonderful space.

My own highlight from the week was a field trip to Darby Dan Farms, a thoroughbred racehorse farm and breeding operation. Lexington is a global epicenter for horse racing, so horse farms are a distinctive part of the local landscape. On the trip, we met a stallion named Shackleford, who has been retired from racing and now works exclusively as a stud for breeding. Shackleford is an incredibly valuable animal—when we arrived, we were told that he was worth $15 million—and the many employees that we met who are tasked with caring for him, cleaning him, and overseeing his breeding process serves as a testament to this value.

Prior to the field trip, I would have never expected to enjoy hearing about the strange intricacies of “live cover,” as it is called in the industry. A thoroughbred can only be called a thoroughbred if it is conceived without the use of artificial insemination. This means that the breeding of racehorses, or thoroughbreds, requires horses to be in the same place. As an environmental economic geographer, I was fascinated by the particular ways that the temporalities and geographies of accumulation were constrained and shaped by the biology of the animals and their reproductive timelines and processes. Each time that Shackleford is bred, the owner of the mare pays $20,000. Given the large amounts of capital invested, the stakes are high, and a huge amount of human labor goes into managing the reproductive encounter between two very large, powerful animals, whose value is predicated upon their health and their undamaged bodies. In addition to the managing of animal bodies and reproductive schedules, the horse trainers also detailed some fascinating links with global logistics. In horse breeding, the expectation is that the mare is transported to the stallion—an interesting gendered aspect of horse reproductive work. This means in practice that mares are often transported very large distances, usually on cargo planes. One story that we heard involved a female horse flying from Australia and having six different layovers at major international airports before finally reaching Lexington. Given the extremely valuable nature of these animals, the trainers often come along, sitting in a cramped and dark cargo plane for the duration of the journey, providing them with a firsthand understanding of the logistics networks and processes that move goods and commodities around the world.

EGRG activities at RGS-IBG 2016

Please find below a summary of various Economic Geography Research Group Activities at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference in London at the end of this month. We hope you are able to join us.

EGRG Annual General Meeting (open to all – free pass available to allow the attendance of those not registered for the conference):  Thursday 1st September, 13:10, Imperial College, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, room SAF-119. At this meeting we will be electing a new Treasurer, Events Coordinator, and Postgrad representative

EGRG Postgraduate Drinks gathering –  Thursday 1st September, 6.30pm at Eastside Bar on Princes Gardens (a 3-minute walk from the conference venue).

EGRG sponsored sessions (for full details click here)

Wednesday 31 Aug 2016

  • Ethnographic methods in economic geography
  • Mapping the Marginal: Exploring the Identities, Practices, Geographies and Experiences of Digital Labour
  • Operations of capital: Studying the nexus of land, housing, and finance across the North-South divide

Thursday 01 Sep 2016

  • Honouring Ray Hudson: reflecting on four decades of contribution to economic geography
  • Scholar activism and the Fashion Revolution: ‘who made my clothes?’
  • Sustaining Economic Geography? The movement of economic geographers to business and management schools (UK)
  • Finance and Market Ideology: Interrogating the Financialization/Neoliberalism Nexus in Economic Geography and beyond

Friday 02 Sep 2016

  • Encountering Austerity
  • A critical dialogue between Geography and Area Studies: representing and understanding economic Africa
  • The geography of work, employment and poverty


Amy Horton (QMUL) reports on SIEG2016 Kentucky

The EGRG was pleased to support Amy Horton (QMUL) to attend the Summer Institute in Economic Geography at Kentucky University this summer.  Amy Horton was awarded £175 towards her travel costs. A reports on her time at the Summer Institute can be found below.

Report on the Summer Institute for Economic Geography, 2016
Amy Horton, PhD candidate, Queen Mary University of London

Thanks to support from the EGRG, I was able to take part in the eighth Summer Institute for Economic Geography. The event was hosted by Jamie Peck and faculty from the University of Kentucky, who – together with several plenary speakers – shared their reflections on how the field had evolved, as well as some of their latest research. Around 40 PhD students and early career researchers joined in spirited debates. Reflecting the geographical roots of the discipline, most of us came from universities in the UK and North America, but participants from other parts of Europe, Tanzania and China offered other perspectives. This short report highlights a few aspects of the week that stood out to me, and which will help to shape my thesis on financialisation and organising within eldercare.

We took up debates from previous iterations of SIEG about whether economic geography had diversified so much that it lacked any kind of unifying agenda and approach, which might limit our capacity to engage with economists and policymakers. Participants questioned whether there was in fact an invisible yet powerful centre, from which the various disciplinary ‘turns’ were narrated, while feminist and postcolonial economic geography remained marginalised. Some participants resisted the positioning of economic geography relative to economics, preferring instead to work with other geographers. Many were keen to avoid being state-centric by engaging with other actors – though a lively conversation about why economic geographers had not been more vocal about the UK’s referendum on EU membership revealed a number of concerns about publishing controversial opinions and accessing audiences who are wary of ‘experts’. A session discussing the legacy of Doreen Massey reminded us of shared foundational ideas in the field, and we found some common ground in seeking to explain uneven development. There was also agreement that our research could reach wider audiences if we gave more attention to methods to show rigour, and used a fuller range of qualitative and quantitative approaches such as surveys, big data and visual methods. Many of us felt that more thorough and continuous training would help in this respect.

Thematically, the range of research on finance demonstrated the scope for economic geography to deconstruct dominant understandings of the economy and to ‘provincialise’ western finance. Beverley Mullings presented her research on attempts by the Jamaican government and development institutions to shape diasporic subjects into risk-taking, patriotic investors, thus depoliticising sovereign debt. Jane Pollard described how she had shifted from studying Islamic banking to investigating remittances and charitable giving by Somalis in east London. By attending to different values and positions in relation to mainstream finance, she problematised standard notions of financial inclusion and exclusion. I look forward to contributing to the theorising of hybrid and global forms of finance through my doctoral research.

Discussions of markets, value and labour exposed some major divides according to geographical and theoretical perspectives. Researchers in the US examined the (arguably growing) overlap between places of work, social reproduction, and organising, and how value and subjects are produced by multiple actors including the state. A global production network approach, in contrast, focused on the firm as the key operator, in the context of rising unionisation and middle class formation in much of the global south. Productive intersections for the two approaches could include more comparative work and studies of informality and livelihoods, in light of automation and the growing ranks of unemployed, “disposable” youth. Climate change and the Anthropocene were notably absent from most of the discussion, despite interesting debates on markets in nature and new research on extractive industries. There remains, then, scope to better integrate insights from political ecology and environmental economics into our work.

Even if consensus remained elusive on what unites economy geography, many of us face similar challenges in working within neoliberalising universities (and our insights here are one way of speaking to other disciplines). We shared reflections on publishing, job hunting, securing funding and teaching. At least as helpful as the practical advice was the willingness to acknowledge the emotional difficulties and trade-offs involved, particularly given the hyper-mobility expected of new researchers in the job market and the pressures on teaching from surveillance and the sensitivity of key issues, such as race. By the end of the week, I felt much more a part of an exciting, supportive academic community. Conversations continue online, and there are plans for reunions and potential collaborations at future conferences.

Thanks to RGS-IBG summer interns for research support

The EGRG would like to express its thanks to the RGS-IBG summer interns who have provided research support for Phase 3 of the EGRG project ‘In the Business of Economic Geography’. Thank you to Marie Gallagher, Emily Brunton, Jemma Hulbert, Patrick Chorley, Douglas Jenkins, Arif Hussein, and Isabelle Green for all their hard work in transcribing the interviews.

Recent years have witnessed a noticeable migration of economic geographers from Departments of Geography (or Geography programmes more broadly defined) to Business and Management and related research centres.

The aim of this research project is to assess the scale of this trend and its broader implications for teaching, research and capacity building in Economic Geography, and its consequences for Human Geography in the UK.

Check out the project webpages for more detail:

This project is financially supported by the EGRG and RGS-IBG and focuses specifically on UK Economic Geography in the first instance.

Key Contacts: Mike Bradshaw (Warwick), Al James (QMUL), Neil Coe (NUS), James Faulconbridge (Lancaster), Catherine Souch (RGS-IBG).  With valued RGS-IBG intern support from Anna Geatrell (LSE).

Economic Geographers honoured with 2016 RGS-IBG medals

EGRG is proud to celebrate the achievements of two intellectual heavyweights in Economic Geography, who have been awarded Royal Medals by the RGS-IBG as part of a series of awards honouring top geographers. The Society’s prestigious medals and awards recognise extraordinary achievement in geographical research and the promotion of geography, science and discovery.

Ron Martin, Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Cambridge, has been awarded the Victoria Medal for 2016 ‘for outstanding contributions to the field of economic geography, especially with respect to advances in regional economic development theory’.

Michael Storper, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science, received the 2016 Founder’s Medal for scholarship and leadership in human and economic geography. His research work focuses on contemporary forces of globalisation, technological development, and industrial change.

This is excellent news for the international Economic Geography community, and a clear reflection of the major strength, vibrancy and impact of research in our field.

Erica Pani (QMUL) Wins 2016 PhD Prize

This year received a record number of entries to the competition, and this is an encouraging sign of vitality in Economic Geography in the UK. All entries were of a very high standard and the EGRG committee is pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Erica Pani, Queen Mary, University of London for her thesis entitled:

‘Emerging Economic Geographies of Higher Education: A Complex Negotiation of Value and Values in the Face of Market Hegemony’.  

We also wish to award a Runner-Up prize to Matthew Alford, University of Manchester for his thesis titled ‘Public governance and multi-scalar tensions in global production networks: crisis in South African fruit’.

EGRG Supports SIEG2016

The EGRG is pleased to announce that it will be supporting two PhD students to attend the Summer Institute in Economic Geography at Kentucky University this summer. Kelly Kay from the London School of Economics and Amy Horton from Queen Mary University of London have both been awarded £175 towards their travel costs. Reports on their time at the Summer Institute will be made available at the end of the summer.

Lizzie Richardson (Cambridge) blogs about GCEG2015

Lizzie Richardson was awarded an EGRG Travel Grant to attend GCEG2015.  Read about her experiences below…

On home territory? Getting (dis)orientated at the Global Conference on Economic Geography, Oxford, August 2015

In trying to capture a sense of my experience of the above conference now some months past, I can’t help but come to rest on ‘disorientation’ as a suitable descriptor. Despite the conference taking place in the UK, and in the facilities of a university not unlike the one where I am currently based, for me there was something a bit queer about the event.

I use the term ‘queer’ deliberately.

This is because my sense of disorientation picks up Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology in which she considers how questioning orientation, and getting lost, can help us find direction. And as someone more schooled in ‘cultural’ matters, this conference was something of an outing into what was for me the under-charted territories of economic geography.

This process of disorientation to reorientate myself at the conference involved queer encounters with the subject matter of economic geography. Some of this was through engaging with completely new areas for me, for example aspects of ‘financial economies’. Equally it involved becoming attuned to different vocabularies to describe topics with which I am familiar, such as ‘work economies’.

But as well as querying my own position, this sense of disorientation was in operation in the subject of the conference itself. Perhaps unsurprisingly, far from being homogeneous research matter, economic geography proved to have incongruities and heterogeneities. There were lots of different speaking positions, some of which seemed to be more receptive to entering into dialogue than others.

This heterogeneity was the subject of Jamie Peck’s keynote address at the opening reception, held in Oxford’s Museum of Natural History. Known to have a fondness for allegory, he borrowed the classification of the scholarly ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’ who differently construct natural history, and applied these academic types to the production of knowledge in economic geography. As someone with a cultural ‘predilection’, I enjoyed Peck’s lecture for its thoughtful construction, but was also drawn to his assessment that economic geography is yet to properly respond to the ‘post-structural’ challenge, posed some twenty years ago by feminist economic geographers.

Another notable point when incoherence and uncertainty around speaking positions emerged was in the final plenary, the topic of which was ‘global encounter, pluralism and transformation in economic geography’. The session was constituted by a discussion between Britta Klagge, Jane Pollard and Henry Wai-chung Yeung, chaired by Gavin Bridge. As well as providing some interesting bits of academic life history for each of the panellists, the session contained some thought provoking discussion about the challenges of ‘doing’ economic geography, and of ‘being’ an economic geographer.

And in this reflexive light, thinking through Sara Ahmed reminds me of the importance of being receptive to queer orientations. To allow for plural approaches in economic geography means being willing to see things differently. Or for Ahmed, to extend the parameters of the visible and the sayable involves disclosing work, when the things in front of us that allow us to find our way, can also conceal other directions. Such a question of what falls within the parameters of economic geography, and what economic geography might obscure, was evident in the ‘digital economies’ stream.

Perhaps an unfair (and not to mention biased) comparison, but I felt the topic matter open to discussion was much broader in the panel (in which I participated) on the ‘sharing economy’ than much of the content of the digital economies plenary session. Nonetheless, in both sessions, what was interesting was the struggle to find a vocabulary for ‘digital economies’ that might do justice to overlaps with and departures from existing theoretical and empirical work in economic geography.

Overall, and including the usual conference cocktail of overstimulation and sleep deprivation, I thoroughly enjoyed my outing at the conference. I am grateful to the Economic Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG for their travel award.