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Globalization and Uneven Development

Even as the world has been transformed from a colonial era in which the futures of many places were under the direct control of others, to an era of neoliberal globalization in which every place is taken to be responsible for its own well-being, geographical inequalities in income and livelihood chances persist at all scales. Faculty are examining the political economic processes underlying these inequalities, the geographies they produce, and the impact of these geographies on societal change in an increasingly capitalist global system. The geographical dynamics of capitalism are of central concern; shaping but also shaped by human and non-human actions whose logics exceed those of the market. What processes underlie the persistence of geographical inequality, at all scales, in our apparently rapidly globalizing and homogenizing world? How do these uneven geographies emerge from interdependent political-economic, cultural and biophysical processes? What is the relationship between development and the good life? How can inequality be eradicated?

We seek to understand how the emergent spatialities of these processes—shifting places, spaces, scales and connectivities—themselves shape political and economic trajectories. We examine what development has come to mean, and how dominant meanings marginalize alternative practices in different places. We study how local actions and global processes are mutually constitutive; how state and market institutions shape the development of places; and how those articulating alternative geographical imaginaries contest such processes. We take a regional and local, but also a global perspective, examining the fractionated geographies of the global south and the global north, and their co-evolution. Specific research projects include: the role of state institutions and political processes in shaping socio-economic development in Africa; the out-of-equilibrium dynamics of a capitalist space-economy; food banks in American cities; urban development politics and practices in the US and the European Union; the uneven geographies that have emerged from trade-led globalization; agricultural labor practices and caste dynamics in northern India; and the contestation of neoliberal policy-making in and beyond cities in different parts of the world.

If this genre of research interests you, shoot an email to any of our faculty who work in this area—they are more than happy to work with you and answer your questions!

Name Contact
Bruce Braun braun038@umn.edu
Kate Derickson kdericks@umn.edu
Vinay Gidwani gidwa002@umn.edu
Kathryn Grace klgrace@umn.edu
George Henderson hende057@umn.edu
Arun Saldanha saldanha@umn.edu
Abdi Samara samat001@umn.edu