I am a human geographer with wide-ranging interests. Over the years, I have studied a diverse plethora of topics in economic, political, and social geography. Running throughout this panoply is my interest in political economy as it pertains to the construction of space and place. I have consciously sought to position myself within the discipline at the intersections of traditional economic geography and contemporary social theory.
- Social theory
- Economic geography
My research and teaching interests lie within the broad domain of regional development, emphasizing producer services and telecommunications. Early in my career I focused on the lumber industry and the changing impacts of ports; I also made extensive use of input-output analysis. I have studied, among other things, New York's role as a global city, commercial real estate trends, information services in the Dominican Republic, offshore banking in Panama and Bahrain, electronic currency transactions, international trade of legal and engineering services, the savings and loan industry, bank failures, mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications industry, impacts of stock market booms, the satellite industry and its competition with fiber optics, military spending, the globalization of back offices and clerical work. I have written extensively on the geographies of cyberspace, including uneven patterns of access (the digital divide), e-government, and internet censorship. I also study political geography, including voting technologies and the spatial dynamics of the Electoral College. I have authored several papers concerning religious diversity at the regional, national, and global scales. More recently I have written about geographies of corruption.
I have sought to complement these empirical studies with conceptual and theoretical analyses of various sorts. I draw from two major intellectual traditions: Marxism, which I find useful in bringing to bear issues of class, power, and historical context, and phenomenology, which I think is central to a serious appreciation of human intentionality and consciousness. I was active in the shift toward postmodernism and poststructuralism, and find this to be an inspirational body of literature today. Thus, invoking these strands of inquiry, I have written about globalization and its relations to the unique, idiosyncratic characteristics of individual places; the inter-relations between social theory and regional science; structuration theory; theories of contingency, alternate-worlds, and complexity; and the implications of capital hypermobility for the post-Keynesian state. I have also published reviews of the state of social theory in human geography as well as its implications for geographic pedagogy. More recently, this line of thought has led me to explore actor-network theory and commodity chain analysis. I sutured together these varying strands of thought in a recent book on the historical geographies of time-space compression, which attempts to illustrate how time and space are social constructions, molded and reformed to suit varying historical and geographic circumstances.
Running throughout this wide array of topics is a lifelong interest in how different perspectives on space intersect and collide. I enjoy exploring the similarities and differences that run through contrasting bodies of theory, and in teaching, attempt to draw out the strengths and weaknesses of each school. Academic research is at its richest when it brings different lines of thought into a creative tension with one another. I am uncomfortable being pigeonholed in a single, convenient category (e.g., "economic geographer" or "urban geographer"), maintaining instead that there is no necessity of being simply one or the other. It is possible, even necessary, I think, to adhere to several lines of thought simultaneously, to use different languages and perspectives to study different problems and issues, and to participate vigorously in multiple intellectual communities. Such a stance does not lead to eclectic superficiality; rather, it allows me, or so I hope, to draw upon contrasting perspectives, to select the best each has to offer, and to be inspired by their differences. Geography has always been a self-consciously intentionally inter-disciplinary body of thought, drawing from and in turn contributing to neighboring disciplines.
- Urban geography
- Social theory