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Call for papers!

Researching marketplaces across disciplinary and geographical divides

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 28-30 August 2019

Session organisers: Myfanwy Taylor, Sara González and Paul Waley (University of Leeds)
Sponsored by the Urban Geography Research Group

This session aims to build international and interdisciplinary approaches to researching marketplaces, exploring their economic, social and cultural roles, contributions and values from a wide range of perspectives. Marketplaces, where food and other goods are sold on the streets, in covered regulated spaces or in informal settings, are still serving millions of people across the world despite the advance of corporate and globalised supermarkets and online shopping (González and Waley 2013). They are particularly important to lower-income, marginalised and vulnerable people, providing good quality, healthy and affordable food, opportunities for interaction and relatively low-cost and accessible trading (Bua, Taylor and González 2018, Watson and Studdert 2006). They can also act as sites of expression of alternative values and identities and connect with broader movements and struggles for social justice and the right to the city (González 2018; Brown, 2017; Seale, 2016).

Research on marketplaces is spread across different disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, geography, economics and international development, each examining markets from their own perspective. These divides are often entrenched through the separation of research on informal markets and street trade in the global South from research on formal markets in the global North. This fragmentation divides the economic from the social and the formal from the informal in ways which obscure the wide-ranging roles, contributions and value of markets. There is a need, therefore, for research that recognises and explores the interconnected economic, social and cultural roles of marketplaces. These approaches will contribute to efforts to build a global and comparative urban studies (Robinson 2006, 2016), examine informality in and across global North and South (Hentschel 2015, Tuvikene, Neves Alves and Hilbrandt 2017), and resist the separation between the economy and the rest of social life in economic and urban geography (Lee 2006).

We therefore invite expressions of interest from scholars who would like to explore these issues further. We welcome contributions which primarily focus on markets and those which deal mainly with the relevant broader debates regarding boundaries between economy/society, formal/informal and global North/South. Contributions in varying stages of development are also welcome, including initial or exploratory work. Depending on interest, we would like to conclude the paper session(s) with a roundtable discussion involving market campaigners.

Please send your proposed title and short abstract (max 300 words) to Myfanwy Taylor ( by Sunday 10 February. We will then review and select contributions in order to submit our session proposal to the RGS by Friday 15 February. Presenters will then need to register to attend by 7 June 2019.

Further details about the conference can be found at