Matthew Sparke

DivisionSocial Sciences Division
DepartmentPolitics Department
AffiliationsCommunity Studies Program,
Rachel Carson College
Phone(831) 459-3153
Web Site
OfficeCrown College, Ivan Vallier Hall, 233
Office HoursMondays 2:30 - 4:30 pm or by appointment
Campus Mail StopMerrill Faculty Services
MailMerrill Faculty Services, Politics Department, UCSC
Santa Cruz, CA
Matthew Sparke

Research Interests

My work focuses on the changing geography of politics and citizenship in the context of globalization. Initially this took the form of a series of research projects examining how borders, geopolitics and national sovereignty are remade in the context of transnational free trade agreements.  My research in North America, Europe and South East Asia complicated simplistic ‘geoeconomic’ meta-narratives about ‘the end of the nation-state’ and a ‘borderless world’ in the new millennium. It showed instead how forms of national sovereignty were still being drawn upon to enforce pro-market governance and neoliberal norms of citizenship at a transnational scale.  As well as being written-up and published in a wide variety of articles and book chapters, this work also took shape as a set of political theory interventions in my first book, In The Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis, 2005). With the book I further sought to use geographical evidence about territorial transformations more generally to develop a series of sympathetic critiques of abstract appeals to ‘space’ by post-foundationalist theorists, including Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Timothy Mitchell, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt.

Building on my early border region work, I secured an NSF CAREER award and other funding to study the impact of globalization on governance and citizenship in other areas too, including on the ability of civil society groups to re-group and resist market reforms transnationally.  Much of this work went on to inform my second book, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013).  Published as a textbook, this book also represented an intellectual attempt to deepen my critique of geoeconomic myth-making and the ways in which it continues to obscure the asymmetrical influence of national-state authority within a context of heightened global interdependencies. My textbook and teaching work about globalization has led in turn over the last decade to research on the politics of global health, including into what I have come to theorize as the ‘biological sub-citizenship’ resulting from austerity and other neoliberal reforms.  

Biography, Education and Training

I was was born in Tonbridge, England in 1967. I was educated at a state comprehensive school in Tunbridge Wells, then at the University of Oxford (where David Harvey was my main mentor), and then at the University of British Columbia (where Derek Gregory was my PhD advisor). I joined the faculty in International Studies and Geography at the University of Washington in 1995.  After 22 years in Seattle, I moved to the Department of Politics at UC Santa Cruz in 2017.

Honors, Awards and Grants

2016  “On the ethical, legal & social implications of new biosecurity technologies as they relate to migrants and geography of biological citizenship,” Brocher Foundation Residency, co-PI with Katharyne Mitchell

2015 “Travel Award,” Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan.

2013 “Climate Change, Global Health, Vulnerability and Resilience: Towards an Area Studies of Risk,” co-PI with Celia Lowe for joint Mellon grant.

2012 “Biological Futures in a Globalized World,” a joint initiative of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Simpson Center for the Humanities

2012, Award for Teaching Excellence from the Pan-Hellenic Association, University of Washington

2010, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Jackson School of Intl. Studies, University of Washington

2007, Award for ‘Most Global Professor’ from the Pan-Hellenic Association, University of Washington

2007, Lifetime Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Washington

2005, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dept. of Geography, University of Washington

2000-5, National Science Foundation, CAREER award, PI

1998-9 National Science Foundation, Undergraduate Research Experiences Grant, PI

1997-9 National Science Foundation, Regular research award, PI

1989-1994, University Graduate Fellowships, The University of British Columbia

1989, Congratulatory First Class, The University of Oxford.

1987-89 Scholarship in Geography, The University of Oxford

Selected Publications

“The Rise of Asian Economies and the Deprovincialization of Globalization,” an interview with Nirvikar Singh, Panjab University Research Journal of the Social Sciences, 2018.

Austerity and the embodiment of neoliberalism as ill-health: Towards a theory of biological subcitizenship,” Social Science & Medicine, 2017. 

Textbooks as Opportunities for Interdisciplinarity and Planetarity,” Area, 2017

Situated Cyborg Knowledge In Not So Borderless Online Global Education: Mapping the Geosocial Landscape of a MOOC,” Geopolitics, 2017.

Nazism, neoliberalism, and the Trumpist challenge to democracy,” with Daniel Bessner, Environment and Planning A, 2017.

“Globalization,” in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, edited by Douglas Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild, Audrey Kobayashi, Weidong Liu, and Richard A. Marston, New York: Wiley, 2017.

Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change” a book review for Space and Polity, 2017.

with Daniel Bessner, “Don’t let his trade policy fool you: Trump is a neoliberal,” Washington Post, March 22, 2017.

Fabrics of Uneven Development: Global Displacements and the Seams of Global Studies,” editor’s essay introducing a review symposium on Marion Werner’s Global Displacements: The Making of Uneven Development in the Caribbean in the AAG Review of Books, 5 (1) 2017: 74-85.

with Katharyne Mitchell,  “The New Washington Consensus: Millennial Philanthropy and the Making of Global Market Subjects,” Antipode, 2016

with Jamie Peck, “Introduction to Symposium on Brett Christophers’ The Great Leveler: Capitalism and Competition in the Court of Law,” Environment and Planning A 2016.

Health,” in Roger Lee et al, eds. Handbook of Human Geography, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2015.

Author's Response,” 2014 response in to a book review symposium on Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration, Oxford: Wiley.

 “From Global Dispossession to Local Repossession: Towards a Worldly Cultural Geography of Occupy Activism,” in Nuala Johnson, Jamie Winders and Richard Schein, Handbook of Cultural Geography, Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley, 2013.

with Dimitar Anguelov, “H1N1, Globalization and the Epidemiology of Inequality,” Health & Place, 18 (2012) 726–736.

Globalization Discourse, Geoeconomics, Neoliberalization and Philanthrocapitalism,” an interview for Exploring Geopolitics, 2012.

Debtscapes, double-agents and development: Reflections on Poverty Capital,” Antipode, 2012, 44 (2): 517 – 522.

Ethnography, Affect, Geography, and Unemployment,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2012, 102 (2): 510 – 515.

National Identity case study: How is globalization transforming the borders of national identity?” In Solem, M., Klein, P., Muñiz-Solari, O., and Ray, W., eds., AAG Center for Global Geography Education. 

Click here for publications prior to 2010 as well as other essays, reviews and interviews.



Selected Presentations

 “Interdisciplinarity, global exchange, and the future of the university.” Interviewed by Gray Kochar-Lindgren for Hong Kong University, Common Core, 2017.

 “On the problems and promises of online education.” Lecture for the University of Washington’s Integrated Social Sciences BA.



Selected Recordings

Global Markets and Personal Impacts, online course recordings archived with EdX

Teaching Interests

Global Politics, Global Health, Global Studies, Globalization, Geopolitics and the Politics of Space