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IAS Workshop - Radical Geography of the Knowledge-Based Economy

Date: 21 October 2005


09:30 Welcome; coffee and tea 09:45 The Bubble by the Bay: the New Economy and the Reworking of the Urban LandscapeRichard A. Walker (Department of Geography, University of California)

Rarely do we get to witness anything like the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, yet the morphological changes in American cities are as inexorable in their destruction and alteration as acts of war. This relentless redevelopment of cities is driven by the logic of capital accumulation, which is capable of spectacular bouts of building that surpass anything in the past and equally capable of laying low who districts in short order. In some cases, the economic forces are so compressed that they do their earth-moving right before our eyes. Such was the case in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1990s.

An economic boom of unparalleled ferocity hit the place like a bomb. The city was picked up, shaken, and dropped into a new configuration. There are several key aspects to this. First, the dot-com bubble in San Francisco was only the tip of the iceberg of a larger boom centered in Silicon Valley. Second, the Bay Area was tightly linked to volcanic movements of finance capital through Wall Street and gained - and lost - far more from the record-setting stock bubble than anywhere else. Third, this highly focused boom rested on the way the Bay Area became the paragon of the New Economy and the iconic space of the Neo-Liberal 1990s. Fourth, the bubble economy drove local real estate markets insane, and prompted a massive makeover of the metropolis from SOMA to San Jose, Santa Rosa to Tracy. Fifth, the collapse of the bubble and the New Economy ushered in the Recall of Governor Davis and his replacement by the comic-book hero of California politics, Arnold Schwarzenegger. As usual, capital got off scot-free while others took the fall for the catastrophe.

In short, the Bay Area of the 1990s provides a perfect case study for scholars of the geography of the capitalist economy, the dialectics of the local and the global, and the political economy of urban growth. This is a local story with a general lesson. 10:45 Discussant: Michael Samers (University of Nottingham) 11:45 Lunch

How to participateThe event is free but it is necessary to register. Please contact with any queries.


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Organising departments and research centres: Institute for Advanced Studies


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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