The strange geographies of the ‘new state capitalism’

Authors: Adam Dixon*, Maastricht University, Ilias Alami, Maastricht University
Topics: Economic Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: state capitalism, critical geopolitics, state intervention, state-owned enterprise, sovereign wealth fund, Cold War, China, US hegemony, state-capital hybrid
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 4:55 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Denver, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Majestic Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The recent polymorphism of state intervention and attendant political geographies have been interpreted as a return of state capitalism. While commentators across the social sciences have offered competing characterizations of the new state capitalism, little attention has been dedicated to how narratives and geographical imaginaries of the new state capitalism operate as a form of geopolitical knowledge and practice. Drawing upon critical geopolitics, we make three main arguments. First, we examine the context of wider geopolitical and geo-economic shifts in which the social construction of the geo-category has happened. We contend that the emerging new spatiality of the global economy has prompted the need for new discursive frames and geopolitical lines of reasoning. Second, we argue that this need is fulfilled by the geo-category state capitalism, which acts as a powerful tool in categorizing and hierarchizing the spaces of world politics. It does so by reinstituting a simple narrative of competition between two easily identifiable protagonists – (Western) democratic free-market capitalism and its deviant ‘other’, (Eastern) authoritarian state capitalism – and by reactivating older geopolitical grand narratives. Third, the geo-category state capitalism allows Western business and state actors to justify tougher policy stances in three areas: foreign policy; trade, technology, and investment regulation; and international development.

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