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Geog 760: Seminar in Human and Behavioral Geography: Rethinking the Economy

Recent changes in our economy have affected the everyday livelihood of many people in different ways. These changes, such as globalization, de-industrialization, and the rise of informational technologies, are not only economic, but also fundamentally geographical. Geography is becoming increasingly relevant to understanding why these economic changes occur, but also how these changes impact the life of different people in different places. Indeed geography is critical in rethinking the economy as a set of real life processes and complex social relations that are shaped by and vary across space. “The Economy” is not a hypothetical or abstract form that follows universal laws and is detached from lived reality.  This course attempts to rethink the economy, in light of recent economic changes, by "placing" or contextualizing economic processes within their social, political, and cultural relations.


In the first part of the course, we critically review early theories and recent developments in economic geography. In particular, we investigate debates between the political economy tradition that emerged in the 1970s and the so-called new economic geography that brings together institutionalism, post-Marxism, and feminist theory, in an effort to rethink the nature and components of the economy and the relationships between the economy and society. We conclude this section by discussing the relevance and methods of economic geography today.


In the second part of the course, we study specific issues that have led to interesting new developments in economic geography. Although many of these issues are connected to each other, they are used a vignettes to illustrate the diversity of economic geography and the multiple economies that characterize our global world.

The main objective of the course is to broaden our understanding of the economy, by focusing on its material practices and discourses. 


The goals are to:

  1. Situate the domains of current economic geography within a historical perspective on the evolution of the discipline, and wider academic debates.
  2. Compare and contrast the main theories on how the economy operates and its geographic relations with society.
  3. Raise questions regarding methodologies and relevance of economic geographic research.
  4. Illustrate the changing nature of economic geography through an investigation of contemporary issues.
Pascale Joassart,
Sep 16, 2010, 12:07 PM