Call for Papers: 'World City Networks and Global Commodity Chains'

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2008 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Boston, MA, USA
15th-19th April 2008

Ben Derudder, Ghent University
Frank Witlox, Ghent University
Céline Rozenblat, Université de Lausanne

The rise of contemporary globalization has generated many new geographies, but spatial patterns and relations have been a neglected theme in many writings on globalization. Notable exceptions include the literature on global commodity chains (GCC), global value chains (GVC), and global production networks (GPN) on the one hand (e.g. Leslie and Reimer, 1999; Gereffi et al., 2003; Hughes and Reimer 2004; Coe et al., 2004), and on world city networks (WCN) on the other hand (e.g. Friedmann, 1986; Sassen, 1991; Taylor, 2004; Rozenblat and Pumain, 2006). The purpose of this proposed special session is to examine possible cross-fertilizations between both literatures focusing on different models of transnational spatial relations, i.e. (i) the global commodity chain literature (in the broadest sense, thus including GVC and GPN) focusing on production processes in the global economy, and (ii) the world city network (WCN) literature focusing on transnational relations between cities.

One of the key properties both selected literatures have in common is that they depict fundamental spatial models of flows: a chain of production nodes connected by commodity flows, and a network of city nodes connected by information and knowledge flows. However, although sharing a common world-systems analysis progeny, these literatures have developed independently with little or no cross-referencing. The formative purpose of this session is to think about how the two models may be integrated and thereby provide a basic spatial skeleton for understanding the processes behind contemporary globalization. Both conceptual and empirical papers are welcomed, and we look forward to receiving proposals that make use of a variety of data sources, scales of analysis and methodological backgrounds.

Interested participants should send expressions of interest, questions and/or title and abstract of 250 words or less to Ben Derudder (, Frank Witlox ( and Céline Rozenblat ( by October 10th.



Coe, N.M., Hess, M., Yeung, H.W.-C., Dicken, P., Henderson, J. (2004) Globalizing regional development: a global production networks perspective. Transactions of the institute of British Geographers, 29(4), 468-484.

Friedmann, J. (1986) The world city hypothesis. Development and Change 1, 69-83.

Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., Sturgeon, T. (2003) The governance of global value chains. Review of International Political Economy 12(1), 78-104.

Hughes, A., Reimer, S. (2004) Geographies of commodity chains (eds.). London : Routledge.

Leslie, D., Reimer, S. (1999) Spatializing Commodity Chains. Progress in Human Geography 23(3), 401-420.

Rozenblat, C., Pumain, D. (2006) Firm Linkages, Innovation and the Evolution of Urban Systems. In: P.J. Taylor, B. Derudder, P. Saey and F. Witlox (Eds.), Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies, Theories. London, Routledge.

Sassen, S. (1991) The Global City. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Taylor , P.J. (2004) World City Network: a global urban analysis. London: Routledge.