CFP: 'European Financial Geographies in Flux: The Changing Urban Geographies of the APS Complex'

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2017 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Boston, USA
5-9 April 2017

European Financial Geographies in Flux: The Changing Urban Geographies of the Advanced Producer Service Complex

Organizers: David Bassens (Vrije Universiteit Brussels), Susanne Heeg (Goethe Universität Frankfurt), Reijer Hendrikse (Vrije Universiteit Brussels), and Michiel van Meeteren (Vrije Universiteit Brussels)

Nearly a decade after the Lehman bankruptcy that set off the global financial crisis, and the continuing waves of fiscal and regulatory crises that followed, geographical patterns of continuity and change in finance are slowly becoming apparent. In Europe, the financial and monetary crisis have resulted in the reworking of the Eurozone through several new layers of EU regulation that have rejuvenated distinctions between European cores and peripheries. On the urban scale, this has translated into shifts in the division of labor across European financial centers as new rounds of 'financial innovation' and regulatory arbitrage intermingle with historically grown patterns. All the while, European financial institutions and the wider Advanced Producer Services (APS) complex – including accountants, auditors, lawyers, and management consultants who have been deeply implicated in the genesis of the crisis – have seemingly resumed to business-as-usual and now seem closer than ever to the circles of European policymakers as the latter set out to reboot the financial system. Nevertheless, political events such as the Brexit, or technological advancements enmeshed with the rise of Financial Technology, promise to upset if not revolutionize existing business models as well as the geographical organization of the APS complex. In other words, behind the veil of continued financial supremacy resides a world in flux on the scale of the firm, the region and the continent– a perpetually reworking of the organizational landscapes of finance that urgently needs further unpacking.

Fortunately, these developments do not have to take us by surprise. The financial crisis and its continuing aftermath has resulted in an increasing interest across the social sciences for the world of finance. In human geography, the field of financial geography has risen to prominence, with ever-more scholars dedicated to unpack and theorize geographies integral to or impacted by sprawling financial logics, motives, and practices. We welcome papers that build upon the growing insights of financial geography to further investigate evolutions in the post-crisis geographies of finance in particular and APS more generally, across financial centers, and to compare and contrast their operational, poltical, and investment imprints on urban space across Europe. Our primary focus is to map out these dynamics across the European financial center landscape, but we are open for firm‐ or sector‐based contributions to go beyond the purview of Europe, or that embed European geographies in a wider global or interregional perspective. Sessions will focus on, but are not limited to:

  • Historical and contemporary geographical developments between and within APS firms, i.e. sector-, firm- or cluster-based investigations, touching upon policymaking, reregulation, financial center- or product development, or related historical or conjunctural elaborations on financial (dis) integration;
  • Investigations of distinct urban geographies of APS clusters and their “professional” workers in key cities/financial centers in Europe and elsewhere e.g. mapping the historical and contemporary evolution of firms, sector-, network presence in key cities/financial centers;
  • Studies detailing the local consequences or variegated geographical imprints of global finance upon urban landscapes, or financialization of urban landscapes, e.g. tracing emerging real-estate bubbles, offshore/absentee ownership of luxury properties in key cities, or the financialization of relatively neglected urban domains, such as governments, (quasi) public institutions, and the state.

Submission Procedure: Please send your proposals of 250 words to,,, and by October, 15th, 2016.