The Jean Monnet Network on Transatlantic Trade Politics is pleased to invite paper proposals for our workshop on The Spatial Politics of Trade: Constructing Transnational Spaces and Communities through EU and UK Trade Agreements, which will be held at the University of Warwick on April 20-21, 2023. Please read on for the call for papers.


The Spatial Politics of Trade: Constructing Transnational Spaces and Communities through EU and UK Trade Agreements
Academic Workshop, University of Warwick, April 20-21, 2023

Trade has always created spaces. For centuries, it has facilitated movement across borders, formed bridges between political entities, and drawn boundaries between others. Trade is at the heart of spatial imaginaries with large political and economic significance, including the idea of a ‘transatlantic community’ (Gabaccia, 2004). Yet while (political) economists have addressed some spatial questions, related for instance to the uneven distributive impacts of trade policy (e.g. Autor et al., 2013), there is still little systematic discussion of the role that space plays in trade politics.

In analysing European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) trade policy, the creation of spaces through trade deserves renewed attention for two reasons: First, disruptions of established trading patterns through events such as Brexit, COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or concerns about strategic dependence on China has led to new discussions about the broader geopolitical implications of trade (Meunier and Nicolaïdis, 2019). Second, the broadening of the international trade agenda and the increasing relevance of regulatory issues to trade negotiations has brought up questions of identity and community (Dingwerth & Weinhardt, 2019; Eagleton-Pierce, 2019). Trade deals are more and more contested today, triggering discussions on who we are and what we value.

Against this background, this academic workshop proposes to study trade policy in the EU and UK through the lens of ‘space’ and spatial politics. We understand space as more than geography. It also brings in aspects of identity and community. We are interested in understanding how spatial and social imaginaries are used to build communities and to draw boundaries (Said, 1994; Taylor, 2004). Following Brenner (2004, pp. 10-11) we argue that geographical scales are not static or fixed; they are best understood as ‘socially produced, and therefore malleable, dimensions of particular social processes’. In his work on urban governance, Brenner (2004) studies the hierarchization of spaces in relation to one another. Rosamond (2012) explores EU economic space and how ‘economic patriotism’ appeals to a community, by imagining and constructing it discursively. Adler-Nissen et al. (2017) and Siles-Brügge (2019) discuss how narratives on Brexit shape national identities and competing spatial imaginaries of the global economy.

Building on these contributions, this workshop seeks to explore how EU and UK trade policy, including public discourses and contestation about trade, contributes to the construction of transnational spaces, communities, and identities. The focus is on the effects of EU and UK trade policy and agreements with third parties, both in the Global North and the Global South. The papers in this workshop will address questions such as:

  • How do specific EU and UK trade agreements, or political contestation about them, construct new and imagined relationships, identities, and communities?
  • What kinds of power relationships underpin these new spaces? What types of new spatial hierarchies are created through trade in the Global North and the Global South? How does EU and UK trade (policy) thus re-border the world?
  • Does the ‘spatial’ impact of EU and UK trade policy differ across policy fields (e.g. investment, migration, health, food, digital)?

Paper proposals (500 words maximum) should be sent to the organisers Achim Hurrelmann (, Özlem Atikcan (, and Gabriel Siles-Brügge ( by November 30, 2022. Papers should be available for inclusion in a publication (journal special issue or edited volume) after the workshop. There is some funding available to cover travel and subsistence for participants.


Autor, D., Dorn, D. & Hanson, G. (2013), ‘The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States’, American Economic Review, 103 (6), 2121-2168.

Adler-Nissen, R., Galpin, C., & Rosamond, B. (2017). Performing Brexit: How a post-Brexit World is Imagined outside the United Kingdom. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 19(3), 573-591.

Brenner, N. (2004). New State Spaces: Urban Governance and the Rescaling of Statehood. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dingwerth, K., & Weinhardt, C. (Eds.) (2019). The Language of World Trade Politics: Unpacking the Terms of Trade. Abingdon: Routledge.

Eagleton-Pierce, M. (2019). Trade. In K. Dingwerth & C. Weinhardt (Eds.), The Language of World Trade Politics: Unpacking the Terms of Trade. Abingdon: Routledge.

Gabaccia, D. (2004). A Long Atlantic in a Wider World. Atlantic Studies, 1(1), 1-27.

Meunier, S. and Nicolaïdis, K. (2019). The Geopoliticization of European Trade and Investment Policy. Journal of Common Market Studies, 57(Annual Review), 103-113.

Rosamond, B. (2012). Supranational Governance as Economic Patriotism? The European Union, Legitimacy and the Reconstruction of State Space. Journal of European Public Policy, 19(3), 324-341.

Said, E. (1994). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books.

Siles-Brügge, G. (2019). Bound by Gravity or Living in a ‘Post Geography Trading World’? Expert Knowledge and Affective Spatial Imaginaries in the Construction of the UK’s Post-Brexit Trade Policy. New Political Economy, 24(3), 422-439.

Taylor, C. (2004). Modern Social Imaginaries. Durham: Duke University Press.

This workshop is an activity of the Jean Monnet Network on Transatlantic Trade Politics. The Jean Monnet Network is supported by a grant from the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and by the participating universities.

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