Professor Adrian Smith
Professor of Human Geography and Dean for Research (Humanities and Social Sciences)
Tel: 020 7882 8436
Location: Geography Building, Room 117
My main interests are in economic geography and labour, global production networks, economic (in)security, and the restructuring of industries in post-socialist East-Central Europe and North Africa. I was trained in human geography and development studies, and my interests continue to focus on the relations between uneven development and political economy. I am a member of the QMUL Centre on Labour and Global Production.
I am Editor-in-Chief of the journal European Urban and Regional Studies, was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2007, and received the Royal Geographical Society’s Gill Memorial Award in 2003. Between 2007 and 2011 I served a four year term as Head of the School of geography at Queen Mary University of London, I co-ordinated the university’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework preparations and submission, and since January 2014 have been Dean for Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Key recent publications:
- Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (with Begg, R. Buček, Roukova, P. and Pástor) (2016) Articulations of Capital: Global Production Networks and Regional Transformations, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
- Smith, A. (2015) ‘Macro-regional integration, the frontiers of capital and the externalisation of economic governance’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, doi: 10.1111/tran.12091
- Smith, A. (2015) ‘Economic (in)security and global value chains: the dynamics of industrial and trade integration in the Euro-Mediterranean macro-region’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, doi: 10.1093/cjres/rsv010
- Smith, A. (2014) ‘The state, institutional frameworks and the dynamics of capital in global production networks’, Progress in Human Geography, DOI: 10.1177/0309132513518292
- Smith, A., Pickles, J., Bucek, M., Pastor, R. and Begg, B. (2014) ‘The political economy of global production networks: regional industrial change and differential upgrading in the East European clothing industry’, Journal of Economic Geography doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbt039.
- Smith, A. (2013) ‘Europe and an inter-dependent world: uneven geo-economic and geo-political developments’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 20 (1): 3-13.
- Stenning, A., Smith, A., Rochovská, A. and Świątek, D. (2010) Domesticating Neo-Liberalism: Spaces of Economic Practice and Social Reproduction in Post-Socialist Cities, Oxford: Wiley.
European Urban and Regional Studies, Editor (2009–11), Editor in Chief (2012–)
Economic Geography, Editorial Board member
Geography Compass: Economic Geography, Editorial Board member
Folia Geographica (Slovak Journal of Human Geography), Editorial Board member
Growth and Change: A Journal of Regional Policy, Editorial Board member
I see the relationship between teaching and research as fundamentally inter-connected. My teaching is informed centrally by my research interests and I am fortunate in being able to teach modules which are close to my core interests. As a consequence, students are provided with up-to-date and informed modules, reflecting some of the critical issues of political-economy and economic geography in the contemporary world. My approach to teaching is to always try to embed an understanding of theoretical and conceptual issues in the context of empirical cases, and as a result, much of my teaching focuses on globalisation and uneven development in the geographical contexts in which I research (West and East Europe, and North Africa).
At present I teach on the following modules
- GEG4104 Global Worlds (Convenor and co-taught with Professor Cathy McIlwaine)
- GEG6121 Globalisation and Regional Development (Convenor)
Student comments on my teaching include:
- "Adrian ... is extremely enthusiastic about the topics and it helps to understand everything."
- "His knowledge and public speaking skills are the best things about the module. The handouts and enthusiasm are extremely helpful and inspiring"
For the past fifteen years or so I have been working on a variety of projects looking at the economic and social geographies of post-socialist transformation in Central Europe. This work has engaged with debates over political-economic transformation and development theory and tries to understand the contemporary geographies of economic (in)security. I also direct the Global Apparel Research Programme at Queen Mary, which uses global production networks frameworks to understand the internationalisation of economic activity in the clothing sector and its implications for places and peoples around the world, with a specific focus on Central and Eastern Europe, and more recently North Africa and the former Soviet Union.
My current research involves the following areas:
Labour Standards and Free Trade Agreements
This ESRC-funded research examines the effects of the European Union’s approach to trade and sustainable development in ‘third countries’ and the extent to which this approach provides for meaningful improvement in working conditions in the global economy. It involves collaboration with colleagues in the Schools of Business and Management (Liam Campling) and of Geography (Mirela Barbu) at QMUL, and at the University of Warwick (James Harrison (Law) and Ben Richardson (Politics and International Studies)).
Europe and North Africa after the ‘Arab Revolts’: Economic Integration and Uneven Development
The 2011 popular revolts in North Africa challenged long-standing authoritarianism and occurred in part due to the unequal outcomes (high unemployment and social/regional inequality) arising from the combination of state-led development strategies and nearly 20 years of economic liberalisation and integration with the European and international economies. This British Academy-funded research investigates the developmental implications of the uneven integration of North African economies into the European Union’s (EU) economic sphere of influence. The research focuses on the extent to which enhanced integration into the European and world economies is able to resolve the economic insecurities which have dominated the experience of uneven development in Tunisia. It investigates the forms of integration through global production networks in the clothing and electrical equipment engineering sectors, which are the dominant export-oriented industries in the country.
Economic Geographies of Uneven Development in the ‘New’ Europe
I have been involved in research which examines the uneven integration and development of economic interactions between the ‘new’ Europe (meaning the enlarged European Union) and its neighbours. This research focused on the forms of integration through global production networks of economies in the former Soviet Union and North Africa with the market and trade relations and associated governance frameworks of the European Union. It did so, in part, by looking at production networks involving clothing exports, which built upon my long-standing interest in the East European garment industry and the growth of outward processing, global contracting and new trade regimes.
Recent research has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and involved collaborative work research with colleagues in the USA including John Pickles (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Bob Begg (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Gary Gereffi (Duke University), Meenu Tewari (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and in Central and Eastern Europe including Milan Buček and Rudolf Pástor (University of Economics, Bratislava) and Poli Roukova (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). We have been examining the dramatic growth of the garment industry in Eastern Europe, its restructuring under increasing competitive pressure as a result of trade liberalisation, and have been trying to understand these dynamics in relation to both the new geographies of trade liberalisation as well as the social and cultural embeddedness of industrial economies.
This area of research built upon earlier ESRC-funded research examining territorial uneven development and economic transformations across Europe. This project involved research with Mick Dunford (University of Sussex), Jane Hardy (University of Hertfordshire), Ray Hudson (University of Durham), Al Rainnie (Curtin Business School) and David Sadler (Queen Mary University of London). The aim of this project was to link an understanding of territorial uneven development with the reconfiguration of economic sectors and divisions of labour in a Europe undergoing rapid integration after the collapse of state socialism.
Cultures of Economies and Household Economic Practices
I also conduct research on household economic practices and social reproduction in Central European cities. Funded initially by the Nuffield Foundation, and more recently by the ESRC, this research has examined forms of domestic food production and networks of reciprocity and social cohesion amongst households in cities in Slovakia and Poland and has involved collaborative work with Alison Stenning (Newcastle University). A book arising from this research has recently been published: Domesticating Neo-Liberalism: Spaces of Economic Practice and Social Reproduction in Post-Socialist Cities (Wiley, 2010).
A related area of interest has involved collaborative work on the cultures of commodity economies. Most recently this has resulted in a special issue of Society and Space (2003), edited with Gavin Bridge (Manchester University).
The research on household economic practices and social reproduction has also linked to conceptual interests related to understanding neo-liberalism. This has resulted in the publication recently of an edited collection Social Justice and Neo-Liberalism: Global Perspectives (Zed, 2008) and Domesticating Neo-Liberalism: Spaces of Economic Practice and Social Reproduction in Post-Socialist Cities (Wiley, 2010).
Earlier research as part of the Global Apparel Research Programme, funded by the British Academy, involved an examination of the globalisation and restructuring of metropolitan manufacturing in London’s garment sector. Investigating the scope and scale of restructuring, the kinds of restructuring strategies established and the role of institutional structures and practices this project built upon my other interests in the global garment industry.
Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (with Begg, R. Buček, Roukova, P. and Pástor) (2015, forthcoming) Articulations of Capital: Global Production Networks and Regional Transformations, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) book series)
Stenning, A., Smith, A., Rochovská, A. and Świątek, D. (2010) Domesticating Neo-Liberalism: Spaces of Economic Practice and Social Reproduction in Post-Socialist Cities, Oxford: Wiley, Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) book series.
Smith, A., Stenning, A. and Willis, K. (eds) (2008) Social Justice and Neo-Liberalism: Global Perspectives, London: Zed.
Rainnie, A., Smith, A. and Swain, A. (eds.) (2002) Work, Employment and Transition: Restructuring Livelihoods in ‘post-Communist’ Eastern Europe, London: Routledge.
Smith, A. (1998) Reconstructing the Regional Economy: Industrial Transformation and Regional Development in Slovakia, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (eds.) (1998) Theorising Transition: The Political Economy of Post-Communist Transformations, London: Routledge.
Selected papers and book chapters
- Campling, L., Harrison, J., Richardson, B. and Smith, A. (2016) “Can labour provisions work beyond the border? Evaluating the effects of EU trade agreements”, International Labour Review, 155 (3): 357-382. DOI: 10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00037.x
- Harrison, J., Barbu, M., Campling, L., Richardson, B. and Smith, A. (2016) “Labour standards in EU free trade agreements: working towards what end?” GREAT Insights, 5 (6): 32-34.
- Smith, A. (2015) ‘Macro-regional integration, the frontiers of capital and the externalisation of economic governance’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 40: 507-522. DOI: 10.1111/tran.12091
- Smith, A. (2015) ‘Economic (in)security and global value chains: the dynamics of industrial and trade integration in the Euro-Mediterranean macro-region’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8: 439-458. DOI: 10.1093/cjres/rsv010.
- Smith, A. (2015) ‘The state, institutional frameworks and the dynamics of capital in global production networks’, Progress in Human Geography, 39 (3): 290-315. DOI: 10.1177/0309132513518292.
- Smith, A., Pickles, J., Buček, M., Pástor, R. and Begg, R. (2014) ‘The political economy of global production networks: regional industrial change in the East European clothing industry’, Journal of Economic Geography, 14: 1023-1051. DOI:10.1093/jeg/lbt039
- Smith, A. (2013) ‘Europe and an inter-dependent world: uneven geo-economic and geo-political developments’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 20 (1): 3-13.
- Smith, A. (2013) ‘Polanyi, double movements, and political-economic transformations’, Environment and Planning A, 45: 1656-1661.
- Smith, A. (2012) ‘The insurmountable diversity of economies’, in Barnes, T., Peck, J., and Sheppard, E. (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Economic Geography, Oxford: Wiley, pp.258-274.
- Smith, A. and Pickles, J. (2011) ‘De-localization and Persistence in the European Clothing Industry: the Reconfiguration of Trade and Production Networks’, Regional Studies, 45 (2): 167-185. doi: 10.1080/00343401003601933.
- Smith, A. and Timár, J. (2010) ‘Uneven transformations: space, economy and society 20 years after the collapse of state socialism’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 17 (2), 115-125.
- Smith, A., Stenning, A., Rochovksá, A. and Świątek, D. (2010) ‘Credit, debt, and everyday financial practices: low income households in two post-socialist cities’, Economic Geography, 86 (2): 119-145. [reprinted in virtual special issue in February 2011 on the theme of ‘financialization’].
- Smith, A. and Swain, A. (2010) ‘The global economic crisis, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union: models of development and the contradictions of internationalization’, Eurasian Geography and Economics, 51 (1): 1-34.
- Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (2010) ‘Clothing workers after worker states: the consequences for work and labour of outsourcing, nearshoring and delocalization in postsocialist Europe’, in McGrath-Champ, S., Herod, A. and Rainnie, A. (eds) Handbook of Employment and Society, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp. 106-123.
- Smith A. (2009) ‘Spatial division of labor’, in Kitchin, R., and Thrift, N. (eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 10, pp. 348-354. Oxford: Elsevier.
- Smith, A., Pickles, J., Buček, M., Begg, B. and Roukova, P. (2008) ‘Reconfiguring “post-socialist” regions: trans-border networks and regional competition in the Slovak and Ukrainian clothing industry’, Global Networks, 8 (3): 281-307.
- Lee, R., Leyshon, A. and Smith, A. (2008) ‘Rethinking economies/economic geographies’, Geoforum, 39: 1111-1115.
- Smith, A., Stenning, A., Rochovská, A. and Świątek, D. (2008) ‘The emergence of a working poor: labour markets, neoliberalisation and diverse economies in post-socialist cities’, Antipode, 40 (2): 283-311.
- Stenning, A., Świątek, D., Smith, A. and Rochovská, A. (2007) ‘Poverty and household economic practices in Nowa Huta, Poland’, Geographia Polonica, 80 (1): 7-24.
- Smith, A. and Rochovská, A. (2007) ‘Domesticating neo-liberalism: everyday lives and the geographies of post-socialist transformations’, Geoforum, 38 (6): 1163-1178.
- Smith, A. (2007) ‘Articulating neo-liberalism: diverse economies and urban restructuring in post-socialism’, in Sheppard, E., Leitner, H. and Peck, J. (eds.) Contesting Neoliberalism: The Urban Frontier, Guilford, pp. 204-222.
- Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (2007) ‘Post-socialism and the politics of knowledge production’, in Tickell, A., Sheppard, E., Peck, J., and (eds.) Politics and Practice in Economic Geography, Sage, pp. 151-162.
- Smith, A. and Stenning, A. (2006) ‘Beyond household economies: articulations and spaces of economic practice in post-socialism’, Progress in Human Geography, 30 (2): 190-213.
- Smith, A. and Evans, Y. (2006) ‘Surviving at the margins? Deindustrialisation, the creative industries, and upgrading in London's garment sector’, Environment and Planning A, 38: 2253-2269.
- Pickles, J., Smith, A., Buček, M., Begg, R. and Roukova, P. (2006) ‘Upgrading, changing competitive pressures and diverse practices in the East and Central European apparel industry’, Environment and Planning A, 38: 2305-2324.
- Smith, A. and Rochovská, A. (2006) ‘Neo-liberalism and post-socialist urban transformations: poverty, inequality and the city’, Acta Geographica Universitatis Comenianae, 48: 43-54.
- Smith, A., Pickles, J., Begg, R., Roukova, P. and Buček, M. (2005) ‘Outward processing, EU enlargement and regional relocation in the European textiles and clothing industry: reflections on the European Commission’s Communication on “The Future of the Textiles and Clothing Sector in the Enlarged European Union”, European Urban and Regional Studies, 12: 83-91.
- Begg, R., Roukova, P. Pickles, J. and Smith, A. (2005) ‘Industrial districts and commodity chains: the garage firms of Emilia-Romagna (Italy) and Haskovo (Bulgaria)’, Problems of Geography (Bulgaria), 1-2: 153-165.
- Smith, A. (2004) ‘Regions, territories and diverse economies in the “new Europe”’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 11: 9–25.
- Smith, A., Pickles, J. and Begg, R. (2004) ‘Cutting it: European integration, trade regimes and the reconfiguration of East-Central European apparel production’, Environment and Planning A, 35: 2191–2207..
- Smith, A. (2004) ‘Capitalism from below? Small firms, petty capitalists and regional transformations in Eastern Europe’, in Petty Capitalists: Flexibility, Place and the Global Economy, Smart, A. and Smart, J. (eds.), Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 83–98.
- Smith, A. and Bridge, G. (2003) ‘Intimate encounters: culture-economy-commodity’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 21 (3): 257-268. Available at http://www.envplan.com/epd/editorials/d2103ed.pdf
- Smith, A. (2003) ‘Power relations, industrial clusters and regional transformations: pan-European integration and outward processing in the Slovak clothing industry’, Economic Geography, 79: 17−40.
- Smith, A. (2002) ‘Culture/economy and spaces of economic practice: positioning households in post-communism’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 27: 232–50.
- Smith, A., Rainnie, A., Dunford, M., Hardy, J., Hudson, R. and Sadler, D. (2002) ‘Networks of value, commodities and regions: reworking divisions of labour in macro-regional economies’, Progress in Human Geography, 26: 41–63.
- Smith, A. (2002) ‘Imagining geographies of the “new Europe”: geo-economic power and the new European architecture of integration’, Political Geography, 21: 647–70.
- Dunford, M. and Smith, A. (2000) ‘Catching up or falling behind? Economic performance and regional trajectories in the “new” Europe’, Economic Geography, 76: 169–95.
- Smith, A. (2000) ‘Employment restructuring and household survival in “post-communist transition”: rethinking economic practices in Eastern Europe’, Environment and Planning A, 32: 1759–80.
I am interested in supervising PhD research relating to my areas of interest in political-economy, economic geography, uneven development and global production networks.
I am currently working with the following research students:
- Steffen Fischer
- Jonny Jones
Recent past research students include:
- Andy Cook: “The Gilt on the Golden City: Expatriates, Social Exclusion and the Production of Space in Post-Socialist Prague” (now Lecturer, University of Nottingham)
- Tim Heinemann: “Constructing Turkey: Emergent Economic Geographies of an Emerging Market” (now Secretary for Economic Affairs, Transport, Energy and Regional Development, Green Party, Germany)
- Aidan Wong: “Waste, ‘Value’ and Informal Labour: The Regional E-Waste Recycling Production Network in Malaysia and Singapore” (now Post-Doctoral Researcher, National University of Singapore)