CfP – International Market Studies Workshop: Flowing Markets


Conference theme


For its 6th meeting, the International Market Studies Workshop, Grenoble [3-5 June] 2020 sets out to explore markets through the prism of the circulation of goods, people and money. The inter-play between markets, capitalism and circulation was at the heart of the first political economy theories, whether classic (the free circulation promoted by A. Smith) or critical (Marx’s value-creation through the movement of money and merchandise). The ‘great history’ of our market societies has been described as the extension and unification of heterogeneous economic spaces, from local market place to global trade (Polanyi [1944]2001), while stressing the role of the emerging class of urban capitalist merchants in controlling foreign and long distant trade and taking advantage of the international division of labor (Braudel, [1979]1992).

By exploring the routes of circulation linked to market trade, the physical movement of goods and their representations (Caliskan, 2010), the materiality (or immateriality) of transactions in process (Callon, 2018), the spatiality and temporalities of trading spaces, the political distribution of capacities on the concentration and control of flows, etc., participants are invited to address some of the classic issues stemming from the social studies of markets – valuation, qualification, market boundaries – along with broader social and political concerns such as democracy, risk, inequalities.  Such ideas remind us of the rich monographs of historians (Chagny & al., 2015; Fontaine, 2008) and anthropologists – i.e. Tsing’s mushrooms (2015), Guyer’s African currency commodities (2004), Brooks’ second-hand clothes (2015) – which describe composite chains of exchange (market and non market) and unravel the complex mechanics of valuation across heterogeneous orders of value (Zelizer, 2011). These themes also recall the numerous STS works offering fruitful insight into the infrastructure of technological zones (Barry, 2001), the classification of goods (Beckert, Musselin, 2013), the fabric of commensurability (MacKenzie, 2009; Espeland, 2001), in relation to transactions spanning/bridging various locations, scales and institutional spaces. By tracing the geopolitics of international flows – of capital (Christophers, 2013) or energy resources, finance and arms export (Mitchell, 2011) – recent works take up the issue of political power and democracy in a globalized world.

The conveners particularly invite contributions dealing with any of the following themes: 

The (de)materialisation of flows. The speeding up and dematerialisation of flows through digitisation has profoundly reshaped market dynamics. Some economic sectors, such as finance, have been totally transformed by the interconnection brought about by digital technologies. More globally, this can clearly be observed with the transformations of work and labour (Neufeind, O’Reilly & Ranft, 2018) and the growth of a global gig economy based on platforms with a stock-market capitalization of several hundred billion dollars. The rise of platforms has geographical ramifications: it accentuates the international division of labour and promotes both economic opportunities and social inequalities (Graham & Anwar, 2019). It also undermines the traditional wage labour model through the uberization of work (Schor & Attwood-Charles, 2017) and profoundly transforms supply chain management. Such changes raise questions about the effects of this new digital economy on the functioning of markets. It also, paradoxically, raises concerns about the environmental impact of virtual markets based on IT servers and linked the geostrategic issues.

The flowing boundaries of markets. Market boundaries are more questionable than ever. While critics typically condemn the commodification of entities regarded as inherently “unmarketable” (body, nature,..), they  now focus on market intermediaries whose income is often seen as “immoral”. Associations, NGOs and activists are calling for an ethical and fair re-embeddedness of trade (Dubuisson-Quellier, 2013 ; Hawkins & al., 2017). De-marketization and zero-growth movements also contribute to the emergence of alternative forms of market, which can involve the creation of alternative currencies and new forms of regulation, re-territorialization (circular economy) or even decrease of the flows of goods, services and raw materials. Conversely, at the same time, the marketization of personal possessions and of practices previously considered as recreational or domestic is constantly expanding (Jourdain & Naulin, 2019). Pro-market mechanisms are promoted as policy instruments for their efficiency in serving public and social purposes like the fight against poverty (social business) or climate causes (voluntary carbon market, payments for ecosystem services) (Neyland et al., 2019). This kind of entanglement between various (market and non market) mechanisms of coordination should be addressed to tackle the new dynamics of markets.

Governing market circulation. Since the control and concentration of flows is key in capitalism strategies, market studies take a keen interest in the political fabric of the rules that organize market transactions (Fligstein, 1996), with, in the last decades, a focus on the inference of expertise and other cognitive insight (simulation, experimentation, forecasting) in the capture of public intervention. A heuristic way to approach such topics involves entering the politics of market design, the controversial problematizing of collective concerns (environmental causes, intellectual property, human rights) and market failure (Ossandon, Ureta, 2019), in order to analyse the way politicization is incorporated into new forms of governance (Reverdy, Breslau 2019). Expanding transnational trade, in which non-hegemonic nations are playing a growing role, means that governing circulation also challenges the issue of market barriers, taxation, standard, jurisdictions, workers mobility policies, or the existence of free zones and of trade areas subject to ‘institutional voids’. It calls for inquiries into the fields of transport and logistics as a lever for capitalistic control of the circulation sphere (Harney and Moten, 2013). New research directions revolve around the rising security concerns in international transactions, with the expansion of generic products – non-branded, copies and counterfeit – (Quet, 2018) and/or the chains of suspicious transactions (de Goede, 2018).

PhD (Pre-)Workshop


For the first time, the IMSW will kick off with a PhD (Pre-)workshop day in which PhD Students will benefit from a detailed discussion of their work by special guest scientific figures. The work presented may be research projects, a discussion of the literature, empirical work, or other type of contribution.

Applicants will follow the same procedure as for normal submissions, and should specify that they wish to present during the “PhD day”.

PhD students may also choose to present a paper in the full workshop.


Keynote Speaker



Marieke de Goede is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. She has researched financial security for over 15 years, with a focus on the politics of counter terrorism-financing, financial intelligence and the role of banks in security practices. Marieke De Goede directs the research project FOLLOW: Following the Money from Transactions to Trial, that is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant. She is author of Speculative Security: the Politics of Pursuing Terrorist Monies (2012) and Virtue, Fortune and Faith: A Genealogy of Finance (2005). 


Brett Christophers is a Professor in the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Uppsala University, Sweden. His research covers a wide range of topics across the political and cultural economies of Western capitalism, from historical and contemporary perspectives. He is author or co-author of five books, the most recent books including The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain (2018) and (with Trevor Barnes) Economic Geography: A Critical Introduction (2018).


Dates to remember


  •   September 2019: Call for papers 
  •   December 2019 : Short paper submission
  •   February 2020 : Acceptance or rejection
  •  March 2020 : Registration

Website of the conference:





IMSW Organizing Committee

– Philip Roscoe, University of St Andrews (

– Stefan Schwarzkopf, Copenhagen Business School (,

– Pascale Trompette, PACTE, University of Grenoble Alpes (

PACTE Organizing Committee

– Jean Finez (,

– Sidonie Naulin (,

– Thomas Reverdy (,

– Céline Cholez (

With the collaboration of PACTE PhD Students

– Thibault Fonteneau (,

– Rhosnie Francius (,

– Mickael Fernandez (,

– Flavie Genatio (,

– Vincent Jourdain (,

– Sarah Thiriot ( 

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