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Progress in Human Geography

Geographical relational The Author(s) 2016
Reprints and permission:

poverty studies

DOI: 10.1177/0309132516659706

Sarah Elwood
University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Victoria Lawson
University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Eric Sheppard
University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Relationality is a persistent concern of socio-spatial theory, increasingly invoked in geographical scholarship.
We bring geographical scholarship on relationality to bear on relational poverty studies, an emergent body of
work that challenges mainstream approaches to conceptualizing, explaining, researching and acting upon
poverty. We argue that relationality scholarship provides ontological, theoretical, and epistemological
interventions that extend prior relational poverty work. We synthesize these three elements to develop an
explicitly geographical relationality and show how this framework offers a politics of possibility for knowing
and acting on poverty in new ways.

epistemology, ontology, postcolonial geographies, relational poverty, relationality

I Introduction of equal opportunity an impossible fiction

(e.g. Krugman, 2013, 2015). For example, the
Poverty and inequality are endemic to capital-
wealthy experienced faster recovery from the
ism around the globe. Pikettys book Capital in
US Great Recession, securing disproportio-
the Twenty-First Century (2014) is receiving
nately greater material benefits, thereby conso-
broad attention, identifying him as one of a long
lidating their structural advantage over middle
line of scholars calling attention to the mutual
classes and those in poverty (Lowery, 2013).
production of privilege and poverty under capit-
Youth in rich countries are mobilized to address
alism (see also Marx, 1867; Gramsci, 192935;
global poverty in unprecedented numbers,
Polanyi, 1944; Piven and Cloward, 1977; Pro-
yet often they only recognize and act upon
cacci, 2001; Mann, 2013; Sheppard, 2016).
Contemporary public commentators also point
to the production of poverty as structural, argu-
Corresponding author:
ing that global political economic relations, aus- Sarah Elwood, University of Washington, Box 353550,
terity policies, and a diminished welfare state Seattle, WA, 98195, USA.
produce extreme inequality and render claims Email:
2 Progress in Human Geography

poverty located in the Majority world (Roy, et al., 2012). 1 Relationality is persistently
2010; Roy et al., 2016). Taken together, these invoked in geographical scholarship, but often
scholarly and popular conversations signal an with insufficient clarity, running the risk of
important political and cultural moment for seeming to be everything and nothing (see
rethinking poverty in rich countries. Yeung, 2005; Sunley, 2008; Jacobs, 2012; Mal-
The Marxian tradition of poverty scholarship pus, 2012, for similar claims). Yet as we will
has long emphasized the ways in which eco- argue, geographers work on relationality can
nomic and political relations under capitalism provide distinct contours for ontological, epis-
produce impoverishment (Marx, 1867; temological, and theoretical extensions to exist-
Gramsci, 192935; Polanyi, 1944). In recent ing relational poverty work. While developing
decades, this work has been extended by theor- the definitive geographical statement on rela-
ists arguing that impoverishment always also tionality is beyond our scope, in this paper we
entails unequal power wielded through the distill geographical relationality from geogra-
political, institutional and cultural relations phers myriad uses, and trace its implications
between subjects, social groups and govern- for relational poverty studies and politics.2
ments (Freire, 1968; Piven and Cloward, 1977; Our paper makes two contributions. First, we
Bourdieu, 1984; Tilly, 1998; Goode and Mas- clarify the range of ways that geographers
kovsky, 2001; OConnor, 2002; Houtzager and invoke relationality, despite often under-
Moore, 2003). Building on this work, the emer- specifying the term (see also Sheppard, 2008).
gent field of relational poverty studies offers a We articulate an explicitly geographical rela-
sharp counter-narrative to dominant arguments tionality comprised of three inseparable aspects:
in rich countries that poverty results from indi- 1) a socio-spatial ontology in which spaces,
vidual failings and poor choices (Lubrano, subjects and processes (such as impoverish-
2010; Kristoff, 2013). In contrast, relational ment) are constantly crystallized, grounded,
poverty work explores how poverty is produced assembled and transformed, conceptualizing
in the inseparable interplay of institutional rules space itself as constituted through relations that
and practices; processes of meaning-making extend beyond a singular place (Massey, 2007);
(for example, by middle classes and elites, 2) an epistemological stance open to surprise
policy-makers and politicians); class/race sub- and employing an anti-essentialist causality that
jectivities and identities; economic restructur- builds explanation through multiple intertwined
ing; and postcolonial governance (Woolcock, causal structures, actants, subjects, knowledge
2009; Mosse, 2010). Further, rather than confin- and exercises of power; 3) a politics of possibil-
ing inquiry to a single nation or territory (rich ity that disrupts hegemonic modes and relations
country, inner city, etc.), relational poverty of knowledge production, engages in boundary-
work poses questions that cut across conven- crossing and dialogic processes of learning, and
tional divides of rich country poverty pursues forms of academic activism that frame
knowledge and those produced by global devel- poverty knowledge in new ways. After review-
opment discourse. This enables exploration of ing relational poverty research in Section II, our
novel knowledges and alliances forged across paper details these three aspects in Sections III,
the very different framings of poverty in these IV and V. Despite focusing each section on one
worlds (see also Roy and Crane, 2015). aspect for clarity, we understand them as inse-
At the conceptual heart of relational poverty parable. Our second contribution, interwoven
research is relationality, a principal concern throughout the paper, is to employ geographical
in contemporary socio-spatial theory more gen- relationality to deepen the transformative poten-
erally (Tronto, 1995; Somers, 1998; Anderson tial of relational poverty theory and research
Elwood et al. 3

practice to think and act upon poverty in new work engages with the multi-dimensional eco-
ways. nomic, political and cultural processes, and
Poverty is a crucial site for thinking relation- social relations producing impoverishment.
ality. It allows us to reconnect that which is Relational poverty employs a relational social
represented as separate (rights and rightless- ontology, arguing that poverty and privilege are
ness, privilege and dispossession), and to make mutually constituted (Wood, 2003). Relational
visible the hierarchies and exclusions involved poverty scholars conceptualize social subjects
in construction of normative subjects. Rancie`re as emergent and co-produced, rather than as
(2004), Balibar (1991) and other philosophers distinct categories (e.g. middle class, poor,
(Lentin, 2004; Read, 2007) argue that Western etc.) from which identities arise (Somers, 1998;
democracies assert a universal subject, a norma- Adamovsky, 2009; Mosse, 2010). Further, rela-
tive idealized citizen with equal rights to partic- tional poverty research critiques dominant pov-
ipate in public/political life.3 And yet for poor erty theory as North-centric (Roy, 2010),
people, daily struggles for survival leave little tracing how this poverty knowledge comes to
time and limited access to sites of deliberation be authoritative through its command of
and action. These de facto exclusions from pub- resources and institutional power, foreclosing
lic life combined with de jure exclusions such as other possibilities for thinking about and acting
criminalization and removal of rights to formal on poverty (OConner, 2002; Roy, 2003; Law-
participation (e.g. voting) mean that poverty son, 2012).
effectively excludes people from practices of For example, relational approaches critique
publicity. Further, this exclusion is secured and both representations and explanations of pov-
rendered politically off limits by discourses of erty within international development circles
individual freedom and choice that frame and in the US poverty industry (see OConnor,
impoverishment as laziness, lack and ignorance 2002). Relational poverty research argues that
(Zizek, 2000; Brown, 2003a; Brown, 2003b). an obsession with measuring, benchmarking
Thinking relationality through poverty tears and individualizing poverty has overshadowed
apart this normative separation of an ideal sub- structural analyses of its constitution and repro-
ject and its Others, revealing these to be inter- duction (Addison et al., 2009; Du Toit, 2009;
related processes of differential political Hickey, 2009; Mosse, 2010). Here, poverty is
subjectification (Rancie`re, 2004; Zizek, 2000; theorized as produced through political eco-
Balibar, 1991). Precisely because assertions of nomic relations intertwined with social and cul-
geo-historical universality obscure poor peo- tural processes. Scholars trace, for example,
ples lack of access to full citizenship and render how land dispossession or adverse incorpora-
them politically illegible (Cacho, 2012; McKit- tion into capitalist economies intersects with
trick, 2006; Schram, 2000), geographical rela- racialization, gendering, and other processes
tional poverty analysis is both urgent and of social categorization and exclusion, sustain-
concrete. ing and amplifying the marginalization of impo-
verished people and places (Harris-White,
2003, Wood, 2003; Green 2005; Kaplinsky,
II Relational poverty research4 2005; Green, 2006; Hickey and Du Toit, 2007;
The field articulated as relational poverty stud- De Hert and Bastiaensen, 2008). Thus Hickey
ies coalesced in the 2000s, emerging from crit- (2009) explains the persistent impoverishment
ical development work and cultural studies of northern Uganda with reference to its margin-
(Mosse, 2010; Hickey, 2009; Watkins, 1994; alization from national economic structures and
Schram, 2000; OConnor, 2002). This body of policies and the stigmatization of people living
4 Progress in Human Geography

in the north. These processes, he argues, are production of poverty, more is possible. First,
rooted in colonial imaginaries and are rein- much relational poverty analysis lends primary
forced by Euro-centric anti-poverty programs causal weight to capitalist processes, reducing
that assume people in northern Uganda need gendering and racialization to the role of
to be trained and reformed, rather than focusing amplifiers of foundational relations in politi-
on the need to shift cultural narratives and cal economy (Ravazi, 2000; Hickey and
development priorities that privilege southern Du Toit, 2007; De Hert and Bastiaensen, 2008;
Uganda. Harriss, 2009; Woolcock, 2009). The geographi-
Another central focus in relational poverty cal relationality we elaborate below insists on a
analysis is how encounters between more and relational causality that theorizes race, gender,
less powerful actors reproduce class boundaries nationality and/or ability as all constitutive of
and power hierarchies (Waxman, 1977; Tilly, poverty, without situating them as secondary to
1998). Much of this work reveals how poverty political economy. We build out this argument in
difference is produced through discourses that Sections III and IV, showing how a robustly
separate impoverished people and places as geographical relationality that starts from the
other from a normative group, that name and socio-spatial constitution of impoverishment
categorize them as poor, and that signify this necessitates consideration of the multiplicity
poor other as deficient, criminal, backward and co-constitution of poverty processes.
and/or lazy (Newman, 1999; Guano, 2004; Second, relational povertys focus on the
Green 2006; Sharam and Hulse, 2014). Pro- consolidation of social boundaries obscures
cesses of socio-cultural categorization and dif- other possible forms of relation across differ-
ferentiation work hand-in-glove with political ence, including alliances. We argue for more
economic structures and relations. For instance, open, experimental modes of theorizing, which
Schram (2000) explains deepening impoverish- engage forms of explanation that neither prefi-
ment in the US in the 1980s and 1990s as the gure the production of boundaries for all times
product of labor market changes adversely and places, nor foreclose the possibility that
affecting poorer groups, diminished welfare multiple, contradictory relations and subjects
state assistance, and a stigmatizing cultural pol- might emerge in poverty processes. A more
itics of personal responsibility and blame geographically relational epistemology expands
advanced in arguments for welfare reform. insights generated through relational poverty
Relational poverty researchers identify intersec- analysis. It raises new questions about the kinds
tional discourses of poverty that harness of social subjectivities or alliances that might
constructions of class difference and subordina- arise in specific geo-historical contexts, formed
tion to gendered or racialized representations through shared vulnerabilities or mutual learn-
(hooks, 2000; Watkins, 1994; Schram, 2000). ing across different experiences.
Others emphasize how discourses of poverty Third, relational poverty research has
difference always also produce (and, notably, focused primarily on the expression of poverty
govern) more privileged class subjects, particu- processes in particular places rather than on
larly the normative middle class subject against their broader spatialities. Relational poverty
whom poor others are framed (Goode and research to date has not explored how poverty
Maskovsky, 2001; Fernandes and Heller, processes circulate through space and time; how
2011; Blokland, 2012). multiple intersecting processes congeal across
While relational poverty analysts from devel- different geo-historical conjunctures; how theo-
opment studies and cultural studies have made rizations themselves are products of the spaces
critical inroads into understanding the in which they are produced. With roots in
Elwood et al. 5

postcolonial and feminist geography, geogra- connections and disconnections, as the constantly
phical relational methods read places through being produced outcome of mobile social rela-
one another (rather than cataloging similarities tions, then local places are specific nodes, articu-
and differences), tracing the circulations of lations within this wider power-geometry.
power that constitute poverty in particular (Massey, 2007: 167)
geo-historical conjunctures (Hart, 2002; Roy,
A relational socio-spatial ontology rejects ato-
mism, universalism and individualism, appre-
Finally, prior relational poverty work has
hending the world in terms of networks,
advanced poverty studies by employing ethno-
relations and interactions that constitute sub-
graphic and archival methods to reveal structur-
jects, places, agency and effects (Thrift, 2000:
ing forces, as a corrective to mainstream
5; Brown, 2003; McDowell, 2004; Lawson,
approaches focused on measuring poverty
2007). Rather than viewing society and space
(Hulme and Toye, 2006; Olsen, 2006; Du Toit,
as agglomerations of self-made persons or dis-
2009; Addison et al., 2009). This has generated
crete, bounded sites within which processes are
a range of singular case studies, either framed
in relation (as in locality studies or conventional
through a critical development studies lens in
case comparisons), geographical relational
Africa, Asia or Latin America (Mosse, 2005;
ontologies posit that spatiality can and must be
Green, 2005; Hickey, 2009; Fernandes and Hel-
theorized through diverse webs of causal rela-
ler, 2011) or focused on rich country poverty
tions that extend beyond the boundaries of spe-
largely in the US and Europe (Watkins, 1993;
cific places and that mutually constitute space,
Schram, 2000; OConnor, 2002). Our geogra-
place, human agency and the more-than-human
phical relational approach is attentive to the spa-
world (Gregory, 2000: 564). This ontological
tiality of poverty processes and forwards
stance is foundational to the contributions that
comparative analysis across geographic bound-
geographical relationality makes to relational
aries. Such work traces geo-historical intercon-
poverty analysis.
nections in poverty processes around the globe,
The causal relations constituting place are
as well as asymmetrical circulations of poverty
conceived as both comings together of multiple
theory and expertise between Majority and
processes in specific geo-historical conjunc-
Minority worlds (Roy, 2003, 2012; Leitner and
tures, and also flows of processes and things that
Sheppard, 2015). Geographical relational theo-
extend beyond specific places to connect and
rizing prompts engaged practices that reconfi-
constitute spaces and networks of relations
gure these uneven relationships and power lines
(Hall and Massey, 2010; McCann and Ward,
of knowledge-making. These include creative
2010; Robinson, 2011). Thus Harvey posits a
collaboration, centering the voices of ethno-
relational dialectics and a geographical histori-
graphic subjects, and reversing the usual lenses
cal materialism in which spatial and ecological
of inquiry to focus on the role of the non-poor,
differences are not only constituted by but con-
powerful institutions and/or technocrats in pro-
stitutive of . . . socio-ecological and political
ducing poverty.
economic processes (Harvey, 1996: 6). Massey
also ascribes space relational ontological status,
III Geographical relational arguing that space is more than the stage upon
ontologies and relational poverty which human and more-than-human processes
are expressed. Massey (2005: 10) argues that
If space is conceptualized relationally, as the actors, processes and relations have emergent
product of practices and flows, engagements, trajectories expressed in, and arising from,
6 Progress in Human Geography

what comes together in geo-historical conjunc- rejects determining claims that assume the onto-
tures (see Whatmore, 1998; Brown, 2003; Law- logical primacy of capital logics or pre-given
son, 2007; Gibson-Graham, 2008). social relations (such as the shared sisterhood
Different theorists parse a relational geogra- assumed in early second wave feminism). Fem-
phical ontology with different emphases. Rela- inist and post-structural geographers also reject
tional theorists agree that space is produced binary conceptualizations of the world that pro-
through multiple spatially intersecting human duce a hierarchical ordering of concepts and
and more-than-human processes as well as politics (economy/care, society/nature, pov-
through flows and connections between places. erty/wealth). Instead, they posit an ontological
And yet within this broad frame some geogra- world of difference in which all elements, and
phers emphasize the analytical importance of relations between them, are constantly being
spatial fixity (Harvey, 1996; Malpus, 2012), made through fluid encounters in spacetime
whereas others place greater emphasis on space (Gibson-Graham, 2006, 2008). For these theor-
as restlessly open, extended and becoming ists, spatiality, materiality, meanings, identities
(Gibson-Graham, 2008; McCann, 2011). With and politics are continually co-constituted and
respect to fixity, Harvey (1996) engages with negotiated (Thrift, 1996; Whatmore, 1998).
relational ontologies that view the world as con- This ontological position of multiplicity and
stituted by flows, but focuses attention on the overdetermination also emerges in arguments
ways in which flows produce permanences of for flat ontologies, reflected in Marston, Jones
discourse, values, institutions, material relations and Woodwards (2005) argument against the
and politics (see also Gidwani, 2006: 18). In ways in which scale is frequently ascribed onto-
Harveys work, these fixities are important logical permanence as hierarchically nested
because they produce political identities, con- scales of body, locality, national and global. In
stituencies and struggles, as for example when arguing for flat ontologies, seeking to resist fix-
union actions fight the closure of their citys ing either spatial forms or explanations, they
auto plant or middle class homeowners exclude deconstruct fixed, hierarchical scalar concep-
poorer people from a neighborhood they claim tions of space to posit an ontology composed
as theirs.5 Here, space takes salient ontologi- of emergent, complex spatial relations . . . leav-
cal form through the particular fixities wherein ing the emergence of space folded into its own
power coheres in institutions, social relations, intimate relationalities (Marston et al., 2005:
economies and ecologies, and from which par- 422, 426).
ticular politics can be expected to appear (e.g. Despite broad agreement about the relational
anti-homeless NIMBY politics, labor organized production of socio-spatial worlds, these
to resist restructuring). debates within geography indicate an unsettled
Other geographers view spatiality as con- tension between openness/fluidity and spatial
stantly in flux, constituted through networked, coherences/permanences. We argue (with Mal-
fluid and multiple processes that restlessly open pus, 2012, and Massey, 2005) that a geographi-
up diverse arrangements of life and power cal relational ontology of space is pluralist,
(Massey, 2005; Gibson-Graham, 2008; Bergeron entailing a both/and approach to fixity and
and Healy, 2015; Murdoch, 2005). This ontolo- motion as dialectically interrelated. Malpus
gical position builds theory in close relation with argues that conceptual boundedness frames a
the unfolding empirical world, rather than from a here, a there, and a this which estab-
priori foundational claims about place, space and lishes certain elements as salient and certain
spatiality (Gibson-Graham, 2008; Roy, 2015). elements as withdrawn (Malpus, 2012: 238).
This post-structural anti-essentialist position In this view, conceptual boundaries are integral
Elwood et al. 7

to relational thinking because they specify what assuming that space is ontologically pre-
is in relation and make it possible to account for determined or inert. For example, Hickey and
relational structures. Similarly, Massey draws Du Toit (2007) have used spatial adverse incor-
attention to the creative tension between fixity poration to explain the impoverishment of par-
and motion in relational work: movement [is] ticular spaces (regions of a country, rural areas,
itself produced through attention to configura- entire countries) in their relation to national or
tions (Massey, 2005: 148). These propositions global political economies (see also Kaplinsky,
suggest the productive possibilities of a geogra- 2005; De Hert and Bastiaensen, 2008). Rela-
phical relational poverty agenda that actively tional poverty scholars have also traced how
engages the dialectic of fluidity and coherence structurally produced place poverty coincides
to produce new understandings of poverty. with socio-cultural narratives that code impo-
This dialectic between spatial fixity and verished spaces as other (Epp and Whitson,
fluidity also arises in assemblage work. Some 2001; Ruben, 2001; Hickey, 2009). Thus Wat-
authors emphasize how orders arise, are main- kins (1993) examined the uneven impacts of
tained in place and work to enable or close down 1980s economic restructuring in the US, show-
possibilities (cf. Anderson et al., 2012). This ing how narratives of poor people as backward,
type of assemblage thinking makes apparent, obsolete or unproductive map onto the places
for example, the ways in which processes of they inhabit, without considering how spatial
racialization re-inscribe fairly stable discourses processes and meanings produce or contest
of poverty difference, even as specific perfor- those representations and subjects. In these
mances, identities and practices around raciali- ways relational poverty work has made valuable
zation and poverty vary from one setting to contributions, tracing how nationally-
another. Others within assemblage thinking circulating imaginaries of racialized, lazy,
focus on the transience of spatial orders that are threatening poor subjects (tropes such as
always works in progress, coming apart as they Latino drug runner and welfare mother) dee-
come together (McCann, 2011: 145; Cook and pen poverty by bolstering imaginaries of per-
Ward, 2012).6 For poverty studies, such an sonal responsibility and undeservedness, and
orientation prompts a shift from examining par- justifying practices of surveillance, disciplining
ticular types of spaces (regions, rust belts, and criminalization.
urban theme parks, inner cities) toward examin- However, a geographical relational approach
ing how these socio-spatial expressions (and insists that a dialectic of place-based and spa-
their boundaries, material and social conditions, tially extensive relations (capitalist, racial,
implied attributes and subjects, etc.) are made gendered, representational, etc.) produces
and re-made in particular spacetimes. No matter socio-spatial processes. For example, geogra-
what the emphasis, assemblage theorists fore- phical work theorizes how a dominant US cul-
ground the crucial role of space in the constitu- tural politics of poverty the US welfare
tion, becoming and embeddedness of things, queen discourse is always already placed.
ideas, processes and politics. Spatial relations bring the ghetto into being as
A relational geographical ontology reveals a place made by a combination of capitalist dis-
impoverishment to be an always already investment, racially discriminatory policing and
socio-spatial process. This extends prior rela- a repertoire of negative spatial representations
tional poverty work in development studies and framing the ghetto as other to the suburbs (the
cultural studies, which is strongly grounded in a latter understood as middle class, white, safe).
relational social ontology (the proposition that The presence of racialized and classed bodies in
poverty is produced by privileged others) while certain spaces contributes to the production of
8 Progress in Human Geography

meanings about who is poor or middle class aspect of these shifting socionatural relations; and
and why, generating a politics of blame that . . . trajectories are contingent and uncertain.
justifies cuts to the US safety net (Lawson and (Sheppard, 2008: 2016)
Elwood, 2014; Elwood et al., 2015). A geogra-
phical relational analysis also reveals how a Emerging from feminist and postcolonial geo-
wider range of situated subjectivities, and polit- graphies, relational epistemologies are central
ical responses, are produced in relation to a to geographical relationality. Epistemology
national imaginary of poor others. For exam- deals with how we know the world and, by
ple, Cahill (2007, 2010) shows how the work of extension, the kinds of research practices that
Mestiza Arts Activism in Utah and Fed Up Hon- can build various kinds of knowledge claims.
eys in New York City produced an alternative Relational epistemologies begin from the pre-
politics of resubjectification that can only be mise that knowledge is always situated, partial,
understood in relation to the particular geo- and produced through relations of power (Har-
historical contexts in which they arose. Geogra- away, 1988; Gregory, 2000). They reject uni-
phical relational thinking problematizes fixed versal knowledge claims that assume a
social imaginaries, arguing that they do not float detached observer who builds realist Truth
above space and place, nor do they produce the about the world from afar (Rose, 1994). This
same subjects or responses in all places. epistemological stance gives rise to non-
A relational geographical ontology prompts determinist approaches to building explanation,
questions of when, where and how socio-spatial invoking a humility in knowledge-making that
poverty processes come together differently relies on localized forms of analysis and diverse
across spacetimes. The tension between bound- sites to build partial explanations what Sedg-
edness and fluidity draws attention to stabilities wick (2003) terms weak theory. Within geo-
in the ways power circulates to produce poverty, graphical scholarship, we find this relational
while simultaneously insisting on openness to epistemological stance present in two ways: i)
the possibility that it might do so differently. an openness to empirical/theoretical surprise
Conceptualizing space as expressions of multi- and unseen possibilities and ii) an attention to
ple processes constantly coming together and the relationality of theory (Roy, 2015: 16)
apart requires epistemological openness to pre- the ways that knowing is conditioned by asym-
viously unseen political possibilities as well as metric geo-historical relations. Geographical
modes of theorizing that are attentive to how relational epistemologies render the world
multiple productions of race, class, identity, knowable through an anti-essentialist causality
coloniality and gender assert power over those that recognizes multiple interrelating processes
named as poor (Leitner and Sheppard, 2015; of impoverishment, thereby expanding rela-
Roy, 2015). tional poverty theory to include previously
under-recognized concepts and processes.
First, geographical relational epistemologies
IV Geographical relational are open to alternatives and surprises beyond
epistemologies and causality what crystallizes in a given spacetime, an orien-
tation that flows directly from geographical
[P]roperties emerge relationally . . . entities are relational ontologies. If space is the expression
always heterogenous . . . they are mutually con- of multiple processes restlessly coming together
stitutive within and across scale . . . the human
and apart, it follows that they might do so in
and non-human are intimately related and co-
unexpected ways, beyond those prefigured by
implicated . . . change is the only constant . . .
spatio-temporality is an emergent but influential prior explanations. This stance prompts ways
Elwood et al. 9

of knowing such as reading for difference: 2008; Lawson et al., 2015). Such concepts are
treating dominant narratives or structures as largely absent from prior relational poverty the-
partial, as in need of more complex explana- ory, illustrating the potential of relational epis-
tions, and reading for actions that could produce temologies to move relational poverty research
other possible worlds (Gibson-Graham, 2006, beyond a predominant focus on poverty, gov-
2008; MacKinnon, 2013). ernance and socio-political boundary making
Reading for difference involves looking for towards already-existing counter-formations
what is absent in existing theory, as a basis for and politics unexpected resistances, alliances
building richer theorizations. Adamovsky across difference, and collective or ally
(2013) traces how most Argentinian historiogra- subjects.
phy has omitted race from theorizations of class Second, geographical relational epistemolo-
identities and politics, a silence he attributes to a gies attend to the relationality of theory and to
pervasive cultural politics that narrates the ways of knowing that confront existing hege-
Argentinian nation as built by a flood of white monies. Drawing on the postcolonial insights
Euro-descended immigrants, into which people of Said (1979), Chakrabarty (2000), Mbembe
of African or indigenous descent disappear (2001), Gregory (2004) and Chatterjee (2012),
after the 19th century. Reading for difference, Roy (2015) argues that Western modernist the-
he theorizes the intertwining of racialization ory asserts universal expertise, relegating
and class formation in immigration, diaspora, knowledge from marginalized people and
organized labor, and party politics in Argenti- places to inferior status. Universalizing expla-
nas modern history. By revealing that race is nations silence theoretical claims from less
central in theorizing poverty politics, he powerful places because Eurocentric theory has
uncovers previously unacknowledged resistant already narrativized their history as deficient,
politics articulated by indigenous groups and explaining the present condition of the Middle
actors from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora in East or African countries in terms of a lack of
combination with Argentinian classed work- modernity, capital, expertise, creativity, ambi-
place politics. tion, etc. (Ferguson, 1994; Crush, 1995; Gre-
This openness to the possibility that the gory, 2004; Li, 2007). Making theory
world might exceed the limits of prior theoreti- (differently) starts from provincializing claims
cal concepts makes visible already-existing (but presented as universal, to show their emergence
overlooked) alternatives. As another example, from particular relations between place, power
Bergeron and Healys (2014) work understands and knowledge. For example, geographers pro-
the economy as exceeding existing accounts of vincialize theorizations of a global urbanism
hegemonic capitalist structures and market by showing how North Atlantic imaginations of
logics, recognizing an already co-present soli- Europe and the Global South erase relations
darity economy comprised of diverse eco- of dispossession and exploitation that produce
nomic practices such as common ownership, their differences (Roy and Ong, 2011; Leitner
worker cooperatives or collective economic and Sheppard, 2015; Sheppard et al., 2013).
subjects (see also Kawano et al., 2010). Rela- Provincializing paves the way for a different
tional epistemologies recognize a range of relationality of theory, one that engages theori-
counter-hegemonic formations and practices zations from Southern people and places to
such as cross-class alliances, the centrality of build alternative poverty knowledges (Nagar
public care to social wellbeing, and the exis- et al., 2002; Roy, 2015).
tence of collective subjectivities in neolibera- These epistemological moves prompt new
lized societies (Pratt, 1993; Gibson-Graham, modes of transnational theorizing from (rather
10 Progress in Human Geography

than about) postcolonial settings. For example, invokes relational causality, as historically and
Roy (2003) uses theory from India as an inter- geographically specific but interconnected pro-
pretive lens for interrogating processes in rich cesses, material conditions, forms of power and
countries. In posing Third World questions of processes of subject formation (Hart, 2007:
First World processes (p. 463), she asks why 91).7 Rendering the world knowable through a
squatting, property takeovers, and other infor- relational causality entails an engaged plural-
mal tactics by landless urban residents in India ism, in which explanations of poverty are
are not seen in US responses to homelessness. opened up to different theoretical claims, with-
Her transnational analysis disrupts taken-for- out insisting that these be reducible to a consen-
granted connections between longstanding sus monism (Longino, 2002; Barnes and
political norms that root citizenship in property Sheppard, 2010).8 To be clear, such pluralism
ownership and construct homelessness as out- does not entail suturing together ontologically
side the responsibilities of a collective public. inconsistent theories, nor does it countenance
Theorizing US homelessness through the lens of assertions of correctness by proponents of
informality, a concept arising from her work in supposedly universal theoretical positions.
India, Roy illuminates the US norm of proper- Rather, informed by a socio-spatial ontology,
tied citizenship that underlies criminalization relational causality insists on the necessity of
of homeless peoples shelter-seeking practices dialogic engagement among plural theoretical
and makes space for other possible poverty pol- approaches.
itics, such as squatting and anti-eviction move- Geographical relational causality extends
ments. Such transnational ways of knowing relational poverty work by theorizing poverty
offer generative openings for decolonizing the- as constituted through multiple, interrelating
ory and explanation in poverty research. spatio-temporal processes, rather than a priori
Relational epistemologies both openness to anointing a single structural process as primary.
as-yet-unseen theoretical possibilities and atten- Further, poverty is theorized as always simulta-
tion to the relationality of theory entail an neously produced at multiple spatial and tem-
anti-essentialist approach to causality that inter- poral scales, rather than as territorially bounded
relates multiple causal processes. Just as rela- occurrences in a discrete past or present
tional ontologies refuse atomism, aspatiality moment. For instance, Bonds (2013) explains
and individualism, anti-essentialist causality a rural Oregon economic development scheme
refuses singular and universalizing theoretical that simultaneously recruits a prison and high-
claims. This is a relational causality that attends end housing through overlapping processes of
to multiple processes (e.g. governmentalizing impoverishment, racialization and white privi-
practices, capitalist accumulation/disposses- lege that ground in and extend beyond this
sion, representational and discursive practices, spacetime. Here, poverty in rural Oregon is cau-
cultural politics of identity, livelihood sally related to racialized processes of dispos-
practices) interrelating with one another differ- session and accumulation across the American
entially across spacetime. For example, open- West that have marginalized Latinos and Native
ended (post-Hegelian) dialectics analyze the Americans while reaffirming white privilege in
interrelations of capitalism, patriarchy, racism, land ownership and agricultural economies. She
hegemonies and ecological processes to under- shows how this racialized political economy
stand spatio-temporal productions of, and polit- articulates with socio-spatial discourses fram-
ical struggles over, difference (Harvey, 1996; ing the development scheme prison as
Mitchell, et al., 2004; Gidwani, 2008; Sheppard, regional development, demolishing blighted
2008). Gramscis concept of articulation also low-cost housing, attracting good residents,
Elwood et al. 11

and displacing or containing bad ones. This scholarship that identifies poverty politics
geographical relational causality reveals the within settler colonialism, indigenous genocide,
mutual (re)production of poverty and privilege anarchist politics and postcolonial subject for-
through interrelated spatial processes of social mation. In so doing, they foreground inter-
and economic differentiation (see also Hankins locked processes of racialized oppression,
and Walter, 2012; Elwood et al., 2015). white supremacy, alternative politics and strug-
Further, such non-essentialist causality gles for cultural survival that have not yet been
attends to processes of class boundary making adequately explored in poverty research (Spi-
and norms of idealized raced or gendered sub- vak, 1987; Bhabha, 1994; Alfred and Corntas-
jects, without presuming that these are necessa- sel, 2005; Coulthard, 2008; Goeman, 2013;
rily reproduced in all spacetimes. Lawson and Kobayashi and De Leeuw, 2010; Melamed,
Elwood (2014) read spaces of poverty assis- 2011; Bonds and Inwood, 2015). This work
tance as encounters between socially and spa- opens space for richer theorizing that expands
tially situated subjects that are consequential for explanatory frames and that involves research
the production of class, race, and poverty differ- practices capable of catalyzing new knowledge
ence, but not in prefigured ways. A rural Mon- politics.
tana welfare office sets up relations of
governance between welfare recipients and
middle class staff members, via rules that ema- V Towards a politics of possibility
nate from US cultural and policy narratives and
regulate the behaviors of an assumed deficient [W]e embraced a performative orientation to
poor other. Yet, from their embeddedness knowledge . . . this . . . installed a new kind of
within local relationships, white middle class scholarly responsibility . . . How can our work
open up possibilities? What kind of world do we
staffers come to understand how global restruc-
want to participate in building? What might be
turing of agricultural economies impoverishes
the effect of theorizing things this way rather than
white ranchers. From this position, they insist that? (Gibson-Graham, 2008: 615)
that the poor are us, rather than deficient and
flawed, leading them to question social assis- Utilizing geographical relational theorizing to
tance regulations and challenge exclusionary make poverty knowledge differently opens up
community development plans. Here, geogra- diverse alternative politics of possibility. Such
phical relational causality recognizes challenges alternatives go well beyond critiquing the
to poverty difference that are co-present with modes of academic knowledge production that
forms of poverty governance while also reveal- reproduce authoritative poverty knowledge (cf.
ing compassionate middle class subjects who OConnor, 2000). Relational thinking reveals
transform normative class identities and relations poverty as inextricably tied up with a range of
in this spacetime. material and discursive oppressions and socially
Relational geographical epistemology and and politically constructed boundaries and
causality expand relational poverty research norms that can be/are being challenged and
by making visible new socio-spatial concepts transformed. Understanding poverty in these
and processes. For example, prior relational ways is both a theoretical and always already
poverty work foregrounded land dispossession political project that necessarily calls for mak-
as a crucial process of impoverishment, empha- ing new poverty knowledge politics: challen-
sizing Marxian political-economic theory ging divisive geopolitics of knowledge,
(Hickey, 2009; Mosse, 2010). Geographical changing what counts as poverty knowledge,
relationality opens space for postcolonial taking apart elite notions of expertise and
12 Progress in Human Geography

rethinking who is knowledgeable and who can causes of impoverishment (Rios-Moore et al.,
make change. Thus geographical relational pov- 2004; Kinpaisby, 2008; Sangtin Writers, 2009;
erty work engages in boundary-crossing pro- Gibson-Graham and Roelvink, 2010; Cameron
cesses of mutual learning, creative alliance et al., 2014). Lawson et al.s (2015) relational
making, and forms of academic activism that comparative analysis of class identities and pov-
transform the existing poverty knowledge appa- erty politics in the US and Argentina, involving
ratus. Changes in the academy must also entail transnational theorizing by scholars in Majority
changes in the world, and here we offer some and Minority worlds, creates fissures in the see-
illustrative examples of such connections and mingly unassailable accounts of neoliberal indi-
possibilities. vidualism emerging from Anglo-American
Geographical relational approaches to know- theory. Theorizing from the Argentine case
ing disrupt the usual directionality of poverty reveals how some middle class actors come to
theorizing, taking seriously knowledge from understand that they share vulnerabilities with
elsewhere and employing cross-site, cross- poorer citizens, and express collective class
boundary methodologies that de-familiarize ally-ship and politics. Performative, testimo-
assumptions, universalisms and taken-for- nial, and artistic knowledge production also can
granted expertise. For instance, Theodore open new windows onto subjectivities, selves
(2015) traces the movement of Freirean popular and intersecting processes of impoverishment.
education practices in labor organizing from The Sangtin Writers (2006, 2009) discuss their
Latin America to the US, revealing immigrant life histories, incorporating diaries, creative
day laborers in Chicago to be oppositional sub- writing, and performance, to explore the possi-
jects who actively resist the political economic bilities and limits of NGOs efforts to challenge
and racialization processes underlying their gender, caste, class, and generational oppres-
impoverishment. Whereas dominant theory, sions in rural India. Such collaborative know-
centered on the norm of industrial labor orga- ing, across worlds often constructed as binaries
nizing in North America and Europe, has repre- (academic/activist, theory/practice, urban/
sented contingent workers as unorganizable, rural), illuminates the multiple effects of devel-
Theodore theorizes and finds resistant political opment interventions upon interrelated oppres-
formations coalescing in, and connecting sions and privileges.
beyond, his research site. Here, disruptions of Collaborative mutual learning about pro-
theory and expertise make space for rethinking cesses of impoverishment and oppressive cate-
who is knowledgeable and how change is made, gories can catalyze new understandings,
illustrating how a different knowledge politics political subjects and actions for change. The
can create generative openings for new ways of Fed Up Honeys (a multi-racial group of aca-
engaging subjects, making and circulating dis- demic and youth researchers in New York) illu-
tinct knowledges. minate structural causes of gentrification and
Relational socio-spatial ontologies and epis- poverty in their community, re-writing gender,
temologies also insist that knowledge-making is race, and class stereotypes that inflect their own
a dialectical process of (re)making selves and identities, relationships, and sense of agency in
worlds together. Boundary-crossing and dialo- community change (Rios-Moore et al., 2004;
gic learning between academics, policy-makers Cahill, 2007). Among other activities, they
and lay researchers can tear open siloed and produced an online community building
normative categories (of class, race, caste, gen- research report and posted short provocative
der, ability, coloniality, religion, etc.), which counter-statements stereotype stickers in
depoliticize privilege and obscure the root public places (Rios-Moore et al., 2004). By
Elwood et al. 13

encouraging polyvocal translations of research pedagogies for the study of relational poverty.
findings for multiple audiences, places, and The RPN is opening spaces for comparative
media, such collective processes catalyze new theorizing across scholars existing work, ima-
ways of challenging poverty (Cameron et al., gining future collaborative projects across dis-
2014: Nagar, 2014). This illustrates how pro- ciplinary and geographical boundaries, and
cesses of mutual learning, by facilitating debate building the next generation of relational pov-
among situated subjects across pre-existing erty scholars. The Community Economies Col-
boundaries of theory, discipline, place, lan- lective and Community Economies Research
guage and geo-history, allow geographical rela- Network (CEC/CERN)10 supports linked webs
tional work to engage oft-ignored and of scholar-activists, collaborating to theorize
discredited voices and forms of evidence (see and catalyze diverse more-than-capitalist, ethi-
also Silvey and Lawson, 1999; Sangtin Writers cal and sustainable economies. It coordinates
and Nagar, 2006; Nagar, 2014). intentional experimentation by activist/aca-
This kind of geographical relational poverty demic/community partners with diverse econo-
scholarship requires persistent academic acti- mies, disseminating reflections and research
vism (Gibson-Graham, 2008) to decenter the findings from them. The Comparative Research
existing poverty knowledge apparatus. Aca- on Poverty program (CROP) 11 coordinates
demic activism includes disrupting its English institutions, scholars and research networks to
language hegemony; expanding who sits on edi- coalesce alternative and critical knowledge on
torial boards and funding panels; making space poverty, in dialogue with mainstream poverty
for a plurality of knowledge forms and research and policy. In this spirit, provincializ-
knowledge-making processes to be recognized ing global urbanism conferences bring together
as research or publication; and troubling the university faculty, students, community
theory/practice, scholar/activist, North/South researchers and activists for study and writing
binaries that constrain academic and political from cities located in the Majority World/post-
possibility. It also involves building new ways colony (Sheppard et al., 2015).12
of catalyzing and institutionalizing research, Taken together, these initiatives share prac-
such as networked projects by inclusive collec- tices that can help realize the political possibi-
tives that enable geography-crossing practices lities of a geographical relational poverty
of collaboration and mutual learning. Institu- studies, transforming how we theorize and act
tional support is necessary to underwrite rela- on poverty by developing networks and build-
tional research practices that facilitate ing open spaces of mutual learning. First, all
collaborative authorship and multilingual pub- intentionally locate their network practices
lication, create platforms for junior scholars, and collaborations, directly foregrounding the
and bridge community/academy divides. In ways that this fosters theoretical innovations.
keeping with geographical relationalitys com- Activities are often sited in the Majority World,
mitment to working with already-existing alter- with fiscal support provided for Majority World
natives, we point to several existing initiatives thinkers and activists to engage in dialogues
working to re-institutionalize poverty studies typically restricted to Minority World actors.
along these lines. They also engage local scholars, activists, and
The Relational Poverty Network (RPN)9 students from the places where network activi-
brings researchers (within and beyond acade- ties convene, creating space from which to
mia), teachers, policy-makers and activists into theorize what is happening in particular space-
intentional collaboration to develop conceptual times as with the global urbanism confer-
frameworks, research methodologies, and ences engagement with various urban
14 Progress in Human Geography

revolutions from 200812 (Sheppard et al., spatialized; and 3) a politics of possibility emer-
2015). Second, these networks foster open col- ging from challenges to existing knowledge
lective dialogue. Un-conference practices invite hierarchies, expanding the sites and subjects
participants to define agendas, welcoming parti- that produce knowledge, innovation, and trans-
cipatory and performative ways of sharing work. formation, engaging in learning across bound-
They invite contributions in multiple languages aries and pursuing forms of academic activism
and share multilingual resources. They trouble a that make space for these practices.
strict boundary between theory and practice, as in This relationality is geographical in that it
CEC/CERN collaborations that seek to build originates from ontological claims about how
alternative economies or its resource kits for the spatial and the social become in relation to
alternative community development. Third, these one another, both within and extending beyond
initiatives offer tangible pathways to form new specific spacetimes. It is geographical in its
circulations of poverty knowledge through open attention to how socio-spatial processes com-
sharing of diverse research and teaching bine to create geo-historically situated forma-
resources. The RPN hosts open-access teaching tions of race, class, gender, place, and much
and research resources, and shares successful more. Finally, this is geographical relationality
funding proposals as hopeful models for others in its challenge to a divisive geopolitics of
seeking funding for relational poverty research. knowledge, in taking apart Western assertions
The CEC/CERN shares its work as video- of expertise and in rethinking the sites from
recorded stories told by co-researchers. CROP, which, and the subjects who, make political
the RPN and CEC share research papers or books change. While each of the three strands we
at no cost online, avoiding the hierarchical restric- explore (relational ontology, relational epis-
tions imposed by journal subscriptions or affilia- temologies, and a politics of possibility) has
tion with advantaged institutions. been taken up in sub-areas of the discipline,
we articulate how they interconnect with one
another in geographical scholarship writ large.
VI Conclusions That is, we show how relationality in one realm
Relationality is the starting point for much con- always also prompts practices of relationality in
temporary social theory. At a moment when others.
relationality is seemingly ubiquitous in geogra- We have focused here on how geographical
phical research, it is crucial that geographers are relationality opens new theoretical and political
clear and intentional in precisely how we do horizons that extend poverty scholarship.
relationality, and to what ends. We have sought Thinking poverty relationally lays bare founda-
to make sense of the myriad ways that relation- tional processes of differentiation and hierarchy
ality cascades through a vast range of geogra- on which modern society is built, even as main-
phical scholarship. From the varied ways stream analysis obscures, makes deniable, and
geographers engage relationality, we distill an excludes from political thought and action the
explicitly geographical approach with three relational structures (re)producing inequality.
interconnected elements: 1) an ontological We are not critiquing universalist positions on
stance, in which spaces and subjects are con- poverty in order to assert empirical particular-
stantly crystalized, remade, grounded, assem- ism in its place. Instead we argue that relational
bled and transformed; 2) an epistemological analysis theorizes geo-historically differen-
stance that integrates multiple causal processes tiated poverty processes that explain the
as they interrelate differentially across time and ongoing production of inequality and impover-
space and sees explanations as always ishment (Roy, 2015). This geographical
Elwood et al. 15

relationality reveals processes obscured by or publication of this article: We acknowledge sup-

much prior poverty research while opening new port from the National Science Foundation (BCS-
sites for innovative poverty politics. We argue 1252810) and the Helen R. Whiteley Center.
for geographical relational poverty research that
emphasizes the mutual production of space, dis- Notes
course and material processes, making it possi- 1. The relational turn extends broadly across the social
ble to trace how processes of capitalism, race, sciences and humanities, including work by scholars in
nation and gender work together, but without sociology, political philosophy, critical race theory, cul-
elevating any one as always the primary causal tural studies and feminist political science (Hall, 1992;
force. A relational ontology centered on socio- Somers, 1998; Sturm, 1998; Young, 2000; Yosso, 2006;
spatial becoming, together with an epistemolo- Anderson, 2009; Depelteau and Powell, 2013; Powell
gical openness to unseen possibilities, pushes and Depelteau, 2013). Geographys relational turn has
relational poverty beyond its focus on strong intersections with much of this larger body of
relational scholarship; our focus here is on framing a
boundary-making to uncover already-existing
geographical relationality that extends poverty studies.
relations of mutual support, or surprising forms
2. Our analysis of geographical relationality draws on
of ally-ship and alliance across difference. An postcolonial, feminist and critical race theory in geo-
engaged commitment to the relationality of the- graphy, and other critical geography scholarship on
ory also opens the door to new politics of pos- social justice and poverty. Geographers work on rela-
sibility in (re)making poverty knowledge. This tionality also engages debates about environmental
poverty politics is realized in processes of relational ontologies (Castree, 2003; Loftus, 2012;
mutual learning that center previously unrecog- Descola, 2013), actor-network theory (Latour, 2005)
nized sources and forms of knowledge and polit- and psychoanalytic theory (Bondi, 2008; Butler, 2006;
ical agency, transform institutional structures to Thein, 2005). The full range of this work is beyond the
make space for new poverty knowledges, and scope of this paper.
engage in persistent reflexive critique. Relational 3. A full exposition of these philosophical underpinnings
is beyond our scope, but this work reveals poverty as
poverty politics is fundamentally a dialectical
an always relational construction at the heart of West-
process of remaking selves and worlds that offers
ern notions of the social, the political, subjecthood and
urgently needed new ways to think and act on agency.
poverty in the present moment. 4. We use the term relational poverty to refer to a field
of study that coalesced in the early 2000s, as described
in this section. As we discuss in the introduction, ear-
We thank close colleagues who have been deeply lier scholars pioneered structural analyses of poverty
involved in theorizing with us: current and former and privilege that dealt with material, political and
steering committee members of the RPN, Luke race relations (Piven and Cloward, 1977; Wilson,
Bergmann, Santiago Canevaro, Monica Faras, 1987; Marx, 1861; Polanyi, 1944). While this earlier
Helga Leitner, Anant Maringanti, Richa Nagar, Sam work has a strong affinity with relational poverty
Nowak, Ananya Roy and Ncolas Viotti. scholarship, it did not integrate cultural politics, dis-
course and representation, critical development stud-
Declaration of conflicting interests ies and post-colonial theory that are part of the current
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of inter- trajectory.
est with respect to the research, authorship, and/or 5. Harvey (1996: 50) draws on Whitehead (1985: 137) to
publication of this article. explain permanences as the innumerable practically
indestructible objects [and systems] that we daily
Funding encounter in the world and without which physical
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following and biological life would not and could not exist as
financial support for the research, authorship, and/ we know it.
16 Progress in Human Geography

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Ward K (2010) Toward a relational comparative approach research contributes to relational poverty studies,
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34(4): 471487. mixed/visual methods. She is co-editor of Qualita-
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Wood G (2003) Staying secure, staying poor: The Faus- ors Program and co-founder of the Relational Pov-
tian bargain. World Development 31(3): 45571. erty Network with Sarah Elwood. She teaches
Woolcock M (2009) Toward an economic sociology of critical poverty studies and feminist care ethics. Her
chronic poverty: Enhancing the rigour and relevance research focuses on relational poverty analysis and
of social theory. In: Addison T, Hulme D and Kanbur feminist theory to explore the range of politics that
R (eds) Poverty Dynamics: Interdisciplinary Perspec- challenge inequality. Lawson is the author of Mak-
tives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ing Development Geography (Hodder, UK, 2007)
Yeung H (2005 Rethinking relational economic geogra- and her writing appears in Annals of the Association
phy. Transactions of the Institute of British Geogra- of American Geographers, Environment and Plan-
phers 30(1): 3751. ning A, Antipode and Economic Geography.
Yosso T (2006) Critical Race Counter-Stories Along the
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Routledge. of Geography at UCLA. His research focuses on the
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May S, Modood T and Squires J (eds) Ethnicity, Self- southern urban theory, and land transformations and
Determination, and Minority Rights. Cambridge: Cam- displacement in Jakarta and Bangalore. He has pub-
bridge University Press, 176195. lished over 150 refereed journal articles and book
Zizek S (2000) The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of chapters, and eleven books, including Limits to Glo-
Political Ontology. London: Verso. balization (Oxford, 2016), The Wiley-Blackwell
Companion to Economic Geography (2012, edited
with Jamie Peck and Trevor Barnes), A World of
Author biographies
Difference (Guilford, 2008, with Philip W. Porter,
Sarah Elwood is professor of Geography at the Uni- David Faust and Richa Nagar), and Contesting Neo-
versity of Washington and co-founder of the Rela- liberalism (Guilford, 2007, edited with Leitner and
tional Poverty Network with Victoria Lawson. Her Peck).