Relational geographies of production: Studying urban built environments through transnational commodity chains

Authors: Anke Hagemann*, Technische Universität Berlin
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography
Keywords: global commodity chains, global production networks, urban research, built environment, industry, production, relational analysis, comparative study
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper aims to highlight the potentials of global commodity chain approaches for a relational urban research by presenting empirical research on different urban production locations of the globalized clothing industry. To date, studies of cities in globalization, world city networks or transnational urbanism used to emphasize the global dimension of service industries, financial and information flows, or labour migration, but they largely neglected the worldwide production and circulation of goods. Notable exceptions are the debate on “World City Networks and Global Commodity Chains” (Brown e.a. 2010) and more recent contributons to the research field of transnational urban spaces (Krätke, Wildner and Lanz 2012, Parnreiter 2012). Using the example of production locations in Istanbul, southern Bulgaria and Addis Ababa, which are interconnected through global markets, commodity flows, and relocation processes, this paper will show how the global clothing industry interacts with local economic structures, built environments and planning processes. Connecting these highly diverse (and distant) urban places through their economic linkages and material flows offers a new perspective on cities in globalization: it facilitates a relational, multi-local, and multi-scalar analysis, and it helps us understand the interplay of global economic forces and local urban development, and thus, the transnational constitution of urban spaces. The paper will also discuss the methodological challenges of this relational analysis in the context of new conceptual approaches to comparative urban research (e.g. Robinson 2011, Ward 2010).

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