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Prof Erik Swyngedouw - research

Research interests

  • Political Economy: Socio-Economic Change, Politics, and Spatial Restructuring
  • Water: Politics, Economics, Ecology, and urbanization
  • The theory and politics of scale in political-economic geography and urban/regional restructuring processes.
  • Political-Ecological Theory and Practice: Nature, Society and Social Power
  • Politics, Governance, Power and Citizenship

Over the past two decades, I have published several books and over a hundred research papers in leading journals in the broader fields of political economy, political ecology, and urban theory and culture. My aim is to bring politically explicit yet theoretically and empirically grounded research that contributes to the practice of constructing a more genuinely humanising geography.

My research programme is built around two main theoretical perspectives and articulated through two empirical windows'. The first research programme focuses on geographical political economy, with special attention to transformations in the capitalist space economy. In particular, the articulation between local/regional and national/transnational processes has been of central importance. Specific research includes industrial restructuring, finance, urban/regional development and governance, and the scalar' transformation of governance.

The second research programme focuses on political-ecology, with particular emphasis on the governance, politics, and economics of water resources. The main theoretical objective here is to fuse theoretically social and physical processes. This aims to contribute to the formulation of a politically progressive socio-natural theory.

Each of these theoretical programmes is empirically articulated through two empirical entries'. On the one hand, water and the hydro-social cycle constitute a major domain of empirical research in a variety of geographical settings (E.U., Latin America , U.S. , Spain ). In addition to its social and political significance, water permits to reconstruct the making and remaking of geographical configurations as a result of political-ecological processes. On the other hand, the city and the urban process constitute a second major research entry through which the above two theoretical research programmes are explored.

My future research plans will continue to engage with the triad environment-economy-governance with the city, water, and local/global articulations as the major empirical entries.

Research projects

  • The Space of Crisis: Towards a Critical Geography of Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (with Simon Addison). European Union Marie Curie Action Grant, 2009-2012
  • Partner in Waterlat, a research network on Governance and Citizenship in Water Management and Environmental Health with a focus on Latin America (Prof. E. Castro, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle. Funded by Leverhulme Trust, 2009-2011
  • The Politics of Environmental Modernization in Spain: From Manufacturing Rivers to Desalting the Seas (1898-2008). British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, 2011
  • Mobilising the Seas: The Contested Politics of Desalination in Spain (1995-2010). Funded by British Academy, 2010-2011