I am an economic and urban geographer interested in (a) how globalisation shapes cities, and (b) how cities and urban space are shaped by globalisation. The first of these themes focusses on 'the global economy' and how various firms, institutions, and industries are distributed across space. This incorporates both existing geographies as well as change over time, as the shifting global economy has dynamic consequences. The second of these focusses more concretely on cities and the dynamics within them. I supervise a broad range of MPhil and Phd projects, and have active collaborations with partners in Australia, North America, Europe, and East Asia.
My specific interests fall into the following thematic areas:
1. The resource economies of Australian cities. This project focusses on the ways in which Australian cities are embedded within broader economic networks. Though global in scope, these networks have very specific vectors connecting places based on the strategic advantages they deliver to firms and industries. This project takes data from corporate lists across multiple public directories and uses within-firm geographical structures to extrapolate larger geographic structures. These are then examined by industry, with a specific view to understand how resources firms – specifically energy and materials sectors – tie together Australian cities and overseas counterparts. Implications for spatial and economic planning are critical outcomes of this project. This is currently funded by the Australian Research Council through 2019.
2. The relational city. The relational city is one whose primary function is transitive rather than static. In other words, in contrast to an industrial city (which produces 'things'), or a global city (whose importance is attributed to 'command and control' within hierarchical networks), relational cities' core function is a bridging one. Relational cities are sites of convergence, incorporating logistical/transport functions, multicultural business environments, and often spanning multiple socio-political systems. The relational city theme is what connects my doctoral work in Panama to research on Dubai and Hong Kong, and most recently on Luxembourg.
3. Global property markets. Housing affordability in many cities has reached crisis levels. As housing, which is a fundamental human right, is transformed into a good for consumption, globalisation has altered many urban markets rendering accommodation a basic issue for local populations. To date neither geographical nor economic theory has adequately addressed the issue. I have a number of PhD students working on housing issues and continue to be interested in the property markets from theoretical and empirical perspectives.
4. Ethnic settlements and communities. Migration has rendered cities more diverse than ever. Migrants bring with them new perspectives and skillsets and create richness within the urban fabric. Furthermore, the children of migrants often share characteristics of their parents' cultures, including religious, cultural, social, and linguistic practices. However, urban diversity is not universally perceived to be positive, as segregation can have negative effects. My interest in this research stream therefore stems from delineating between the benefits of urban ethnic diversity and the negative outcomes resulting from segregation. Australia is a particularly fruitful location for this research as its major cities are amongst the most diverse on earth.
5. The gig economy. This is a new interest of mine, but one that cannot be ignored by geographers for long. The advent of house-sharing and ride-sharing has afforded us greater mobility than ever, allowing you to immediately be 'home' in a new city or to have a personal driver at the push of a button. Practically, this has rationalised resources in what is referred to as the 'sharing economy', but in reality has brought with it a number of labour, ethical, and regulatory issues to which there is no black-and-white solution.