Meeting 2020: Political geographies of the new state capitalism
American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2020, Denver, Colorado, 6-10 

Deadline for abstracts: October 25, 2019

Session Title: Political geographies of the new state capitalism

Organizers: Ilias Alami (Maastricht University), Adam Dixon (Maastricht 

Sponsored by the Economic Geography Specialty group

State capitalism is back. At least that is what we are told. An avalanche of 
books and articles, both in academia and for the broader public, have recently 
argued that the more visible role of the state across the world capitalist 
economy signals theresurgence of state capitalism (e.g. Bremmer 2010; 
Kurlantzick 2016; Musacchio and Lazzarini 2014; MacDonald and Lemco 2015; 
Spechler, Ahrens, and Hoen 2017). Indeed, the new polymorphism of state 
intervention is manifest, from the mass bailouts following the 2008 financial 
crisis to the expansion of marketized state-owned enterprises (SOE), sovereign 
wealth funds (SWF) and other state-sponsored investment funds, national and 
regional development banks, to the renewal ofindustrial policy and various 
forms of economic nationalism in the advanced capitalist economies and the 
consolidation of state-led development in China and elsewhere. For many 
commentators, these developments suggest that state capitalism is once again 
taking center stage in the global political economy.

However, despite the widespread use of the latter term, there is neither 
consensus about what it exactly means and what is qualitatively new about it 
within and across academic disciplines (Alami and Dixon 2019). For instance, 
scholars have deployed the concept (and cognates) to designate a national 
variant of capitalism (Nölke et al 2015); a specific brand of state-owned 
enterprise and/or state-sponsored investment fund (Lyons 2007; Carney 2015); a 
particular type of state-business relation (Zhang & Whitley 2013; Nölke 2014); 
a threat or an alternative to (Western) liberal capitalism (Brenner 2008; 
McNally 2013) ; a reconfiguration of the global ‘state-capital nexus’ (van 
Apeldoorn et a. 2012); and the use of market mechanisms for the promotion 
ofgeo-economic and geopolitical goals (e.g. Kurlantzick 2016).

The session aims to stimulate geographical engagement with this literature, 
which has so far been dominated by other academic communities and disciplines 
(International Political Economy, Varieties of Capitalism/Business Systems, 
Developmental statetheory, Strategic management & International Business). In 
particular, the session aims to enhance our scholarly understanding of the 
recent polymorphism of state intervention by exploring its attendant economic 
and political geographies. In particular, we welcome both theoretical and 
empirical contributions exploring the following topics:

-  Th​e nature of the new state capitalism: Explaining the more visible role of 
thestate in the economy and society at large from a geographical perspective. 
What are the wider geopolitical and geo-economic shifts in which the rise of 
the new statecapitalism is embedded? What is new about the recent ‘wave’ of 
state capitalism across the global economy? What are the strategic, 
structural/epochal, and contingent drivers of its emergence? 
-  Variegated state capitalism(s): Explaining the diversity of state capitalism 
across the spaces of the global capitalist economy, from Sino-capitalism and 
its one-party state to the oil-rich Middle Eastern rentier states: where 
isstate capitalismgeographically located? Is there one, or several varieties of 
state capitalism? Are there state capitalisms across regions? What are the 
drivers of diversity in state capitalism, i.e. the common tendencies and the 
continuous reproduction of difference both between state capitalism and other 
forms of capitalism, and between different varieties of state capitalist 

- Spatializing the new state capitalism: Studying state capitalism beyond 
methodological nationalism. The spatialities and scales at which state 
capitalism is produced, enacted, and imagined. The spatial practices, flows, 
and strategies of the new state capitalism at a variety of scales that cut 
across the national, as well as their interconnection. State capitalist 
strategies and the reconfiguration of economic territory and political 
authority. The changing spaces and scales of state intervention (e.g. Hameiri & 
Jones 2015; Alami 2018). The fragmentation of the state and the question of 
multi-level governance (e.g. Gu et al. 2016; Jones and Zou 2017). The role of 
the local state, the internationalization of the state, the continuous 
importance of the national scale? 

- State capitalism and uneven and combined geographical development: 
Scrutinizing the growing integration of state capitalism into transnational 
circuits of capital (including global networks of production, trade, finance, 
infrastructure and corporate ownership) in the context of a deeply polarized 
world market. The remaking of the political geographies of capital under 
conditions of uneven development and politically mediated capitalist 
competition. The emergence of specific spatial, institutional, legal, and 
political forms that contribute to the re-scaling of relations between firms 
and nation-states, and the reconfiguring of spaces of political power and 
authority beyond national territories and in geographical settings that span 
north/south and east/west boundaries.

-  State capitalism and the new political geographies of capital and state 
power: The rationale for and new tools of state intervention. How are state 
capitalist practices and instruments reconfigured under conditions of 
capitalist globalization and financialization? the role of state-sponsored 
investment funds and state-owned enterprises; the role of intervention of 
regional and national development banks. Is therise of state capitalism 
challenging the boundaries between politics, economics, and geography? How to 
think together political/territorial/imperial and capitalist logics of power 
(e.g. Lee et al. 2018)?

-   Studying state capitalism in light of the concept of ‘legitimacy’ (e.g. 
Clark, Dixon, & Monk 2013): Are the new practices of state capitalism forcing a 
redefinition ofwhat is considered the appropriate scope for state intervention? 
What are thestrategies of various actors to (de)legitimize new forms of state 
intervention and newpolicy instruments?

- Critical geopolitics of the new state capitalism: How do narratives and 
geographical imaginaries of the new state capitalism operate as a form of 
geopolitical knowledge and practice? How do they contribute to categorizing and 
hierarchizing thespaces of world politics? Non-western centric perspectives on 
the new state capitalism.

- The multiple and interlocking geographies of state capitalism and the future 
of the (Western-dominated) (neo)liberal capitalist order


Alami, I. & Dixon, A. D. (2019). State capitalism(s) redux?: Theories, 
tensions, controversies. Competition and Change. forthcoming.

Alami, I. (2018). Money power of Capital and Production of ‘New State Spaces’: 
A View from the Global South. New Political Economy, 23(4), 512-529.

Bremmer, I. (2008). The return of state capitalism. Survival, 50(3), 55-64.

Carney, R. W. (2015). The stabilizing state: State capitalism as a response to 
financial globalization in one-party regimes. Review of International Political 
Economy, 22(4), 838-873.

Clark, G. L., Dixon, A. D., & Monk, A. H. (2013). Sovereign wealth funds: 
Legitimacy, governance, and global power. Princeton University Press.

Kurlantzick, J. (2016). State capitalism: How the return of statism is 
transforming theworld. Oxford University Press.

Hameiri, S., & Jones, L. (2016). Rising powers and state transformation: The 
case ofChina. European Journal of International Relations, 22(1), 72-98.

Lee, S. O., Wainwright, J., & Glassman, J. (2018). Geopolitical economy and 
theproduction of territory: The case of US–China geopolitical-economic 
competition in Asia. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50(2), 

Lyons, G., (2007), State capitalism : the rise of sovereign wealth funds, Law 
and business Review of the Americas, Volume 14, Number 1, Article 13

McNally, C. A. (2013). The Challenge of Refurbished State Capitalism: 
Implications for the Global Political Economic Order. DMS - Der Moderne Staat, 

Musacchio, A., & Lazzarini, S. G. (2014). Reinventing state capitalism. Harvard 
University Press.

Nölke, A. (Ed.). (2014). Multinational corporations from emerging markets: 
Statecapitalism 3.0. Springer.

Nölke, A., ten Brink, T., Claar, S., & May, C. (2015). Domestic structures, 
foreign economic policies and global economic order: Implications from the rise 
of large emerging economies. European Journal of International Relations, 
21(3), 538-567.

Van Apeldoorn, B., de Graaff, N., & Overbeek, H. (2012). The reconfiguration of 
theglobal state–capital nexus. Globalizations, 9(4), 471-486.

Zhang, X., & Whitley, R. (2013). Changing macro-structural varieties of East 
Asian capitalism. Socio-Economic Review, 11(2), 301–336

Please submit a paper abstract (max. 250 words) that clearly explains your 
paper's connections to the proposed themes to Ilias Alami 
( no later than October 25, 2019. Specific 
questions regarding the session can be addressed to any of the organizers. 

Participants will be notified by October 26, 2019 if their abstract has been 
accepted. All accepted contributors will then need to register for the 
conference by October 30, 2019 and provide their AAG PIN (Personal 
Identification Number, obtained after registration for the conference) to the 
organisers in order to be included in the session.

Details about attending the conference are available from the AAG website:​

Dr. Adam D. Dixon
Associate Professor of Globalization and Development
Principal Investigator, SWFsEUROPE, ERC StG, 2018-2022 (
Maastricht University | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Visiting address: Grote Gracht 80-82 | Room A 1.001 | Tel + 31(0) 43 3883205

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