Politics Faculty

Matt Sparke
  • Title
    • Executive Director of Global and Community Health
    • Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Politics Department
  • Affiliations Legal Studies, Community Studies Program, Latin American & Latino Studies, Science & Justice Research Center, Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Crown College Faculty Wing, 233
    • Crown College, Ivan Vallier Hall, 233
  • Office Hours Mondays 3:00 - 4:30 pm or by appointment msparke@ucsc.edu
  • Mail Stop Merrill/Crown Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • Merrill Faculty Services, Politics Department, UCSC
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Capitalism, Globalization, Border Studies, Critical Theory, Health and Wellness, Disease and Immunity, International and Global Affairs, Political Economy of Development
  • Courses ANTH 89/ BIO 89/ POLI 89: Foundations for Global & Community Health; POLI 189: Pandemic, Politics and Global & Community Health; POLI 189B: Global & Community Health in Practice; POLI 186/ LGST 186: Global Health Politics; POLI 17: US and the World Economy; POLI 200D: Political Economy Core; POLI 271: Global GeoPolitics
  • Advisees, Grad Students, Researchers , Gabriela Segura, Lucia Vitale

Summary of Expertise

KEY AREAS: Globalization, Global Health, Global Politics, Global Studies, Borders, Citizenship and Sub-Citizenship. Based on research in these areas, Sparke has written two books: Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and In the Space of Theory: Post-foundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press); along with the journal articles, book chapters and reviews listed opposite and on his CV

Research Interests

Sparke's work focuses on the changing geography of politics and citizenship in the context of globalization. Initially this took the form of research examining how borders, geopolitics and national sovereignty are remade in the context of trade liberalization.  His research in North America, Europe and South East Asia complicated simplistic ‘geoeconomic’ meta-narratives about ‘the end of the nation-state’ and a ‘borderless world’ in the new millennium. It showed instead how forms of national sovereignty were still being drawn upon to enforce pro-market governance and neoliberal norms of citizenship at a transnational scale.  As well as being written-up and published in a wide variety of articles and book chapters, this work also informed his first book, In The Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State (Minneapolis, 2005). With the book he further sought to use geographical evidence about territorial transformations to explore the limits of abstract appeals to ‘space’ by critical theorists, including Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Timothy Mitchell, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt.

Funded by a NSF CAREER award and support from other foundations, Sparke has continued to study the impact of globalization on governance and citizenship into the present.  Some of this work also informs his second book, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration (Oxford, 2013). This is primarily a textbook, but it additionally attempts to deepen his critique of geoeconomic myth-making and the ways in which it continues to obscure the asymmetrical influence of national-state authority and sovereignty within a context of heightened global interdependencies. His textbook and teaching work about globalization have led in turn to research on the politics of global health, including into what he has come to theorize as the ‘biological sub-citizenship’ resulting from austerity and other neoliberal reforms.  One example of this is his current work on unequal global access to the COVID vaccines, including all the exclusions from immunization created by the patent-based monopolies on vaccine IP.

Biography, Education and Training

Matt Sparke is a Professor of Politics at UCSC. He was was born in Tonbridge, England in 1967. He was educated at a state comprehensive school in Tunbridge Wells, then at the University of Oxford (where David Harvey was his main mentor), and then at the University of British Columbia (where Derek Gregory was his PhD advisor). He joined the faculty in International Studies and Geography at the University of Washington in 1995.  After 22 years in Seattle, he moved to the Department of Politics at UC Santa Cruz in 2017.

Honors, Awards and Grants

  • 2019 Appointed as Editor for Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 
  • 2019 "Global health citizenship and the city," Brocher Foundation Residency, co-PI with Katharyne Mitchell.
  • 2018 Appointed to the Board of the University of California Global Health Institute.
  • 2016  “On the ethical, legal & social implications of new biosecurity technologies as they relate to migrants and geography of biological citizenship,” Brocher Foundation Residency, co-PI with Katharyne Mitchell.
  • 2015 “Travel Award,” Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan.
  • 2013 “Climate Change, Global Health, Vulnerability and Resilience: Towards an Area Studies of Risk,” co-PI with Celia Lowe for joint Mellon grant.
  • 2012 “Biological Futures in a Globalized World,” a joint initiative of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Simpson Center for the Humanities
  • 2010, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Jackson School of Intl. Studies, University of Washington
  • 2007, Lifetime Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Washington
  • 2005, Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dept. of Geography, University of Washington
  • 2000-5, National Science Foundation, CAREER award, PI
  • 1998-9 National Science Foundation, Undergraduate Research Experiences Grant, PI
  • 1997-9 National Science Foundation, Regular research award, PI
  • 1989-1994, University Graduate Fellowships, The University of British Columbia
  • 1989, Congratulatory First Class, The University of Oxford.
  • 1987-89 Scholarship in Geography, The University of Oxford

Selected Publications

Accepted and forthcoming, with Orly Levy, “Immunizing Against Access? Philanthro-Capitalist COVID Vaccines and the Preservation of Patent Monopolies,” in The Routledge Handbook of Critical Philanthropy and Humanitarianism, New York: Routledge, eds. Katharyne Mitchell and Polly Pallister-Wilkins.

2022, with Orly Levy, “Competing responses to global inequalities in access to COVID vaccines:  Vaccine Diplomacy and Vaccine Charity Versus Vaccine Liberty," Clinical Infectious Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciac361

2022, with Owain Williams, "Neoliberal Disease: COVID-19, Co-Pathogenesis and Global Health Insecurities", Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 54 (1)  http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X211048905

2022, "Reactionary Anti-Globalism and the Crisis of Globalization," in Richard Ballard and Clive Barnett, eds. Routledge Handbook of Social Change (New York: Routledge, 2022).

2022, with Lucia Vitale, "COVID's Co-Pathogenesis," Syndemic Magazine, Issue 1, February 14.

2021, with Aarushi Saharan and Manya Balanchander, "Sharing the Burden of Treatment Navigation: Social Work and the Experiences of Unhoused Women in Accessing Health Services in Santa Cruz," Social Work in Health Care. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00981389.2021.1986457

2021, with Owain Williams, "Prepped to Fail: Why Countries Must Learn Hard Lessons from COVID," The Telegraph, September 14.

2020, "Contextualizing Coronavirus Geographically," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

2020, "Neoliberal Regime Change & the Remaking of Global Health: From Roll-back Disinvestment to Roll-Out Reinvestment & Reterritorialization,Review of International Political Economy, 27:1, 48-74.

2020,  “Globalisation and the Politics of Global Health,” in Colin McInnes et al eds. The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2020, "Comparing and connecting territories of illiberal politics and neoliberal governance," Terrritory, Politics, Governance, 8, 1: 95-99.

2019, with Daniel Bessner, “Resilience, Reaction, and the Trumpist Behemoth: Environmental Crisis Management from 'Hoax' to Technique of Domination,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 109 (2): 533-544. Reprinted as Chapter 21 in James McCarthy, ed. Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era, New York: Routledge, 2020.

2019, with Miranda Joseph, Abigail H. Neely, Gail Davies, & Susan Craddock, book review panel on Susan Craddock's, Compound Solutions: Pharmaceutical Alternatives for Global HealthThe AAG Review of Books, 7:1, 47-58.

2019, a book review of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, by Quinn Slobodian, for Economic Geography.

2018, “Welcome, its suppression, and the in-between spaces of refugee sub-citizenship,Fennia - International Journal of Geography.

2018, with Katharyne Mitchell, "Hotspot Geopolitics Versus Geosocial Solidarity: Contending Constructions of Safe Space for Migrants in Europe," Society and Space.

2018, with Katharyne Mitchell, "From EU Hotspots to Solidarity Spaces: Scenes of SAFE PASSAGE," Society and Space.

2018, “Teaching Globalisations,” in Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh, Pieter Terhorst (editors) Handbook Geographies of Globalisation, Edward Elgar Publishing.

2018, with Katharyne Mitchell, “Lampedusa in Hamburg and the ‘Throwntogetherness’ of the Global City,” in Marion Werner, Jamie Peck, Rebecca Lave, & Brett Christophers (eds.) Critical Dialogues with Doreen Massey, Agenda Publishing.

2018, “The Rise of Asian Economies and the Deprovincialization of Globalization,” an interview with Nirvikar Singh, Panjab University Research Journal of the Social Sciences.

2017, “Austerity and the embodiment of neoliberalism as ill-health: Towards a theory of biological subcitizenship,” Social Science & Medicine

2017, “Textbooks as Opportunities for Interdisciplinarity and Planetarity,” Area.

2017, “Situated Cyborg Knowledge In Not So Borderless Online Global Education: Mapping the Geosocial Landscape of a MOOC,” Geopolitics.

2017, “Nazism, neoliberalism, and the Trumpist challenge to democracy,” with Daniel Bessner, Environment and Planning A.

2017, “Globalization,” in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, edited by Douglas Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild, Audrey Kobayashi, Weidong Liu, and Richard A. Marston, New York: Wiley.

2017, “Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change” a book review for Space and Polity.

2017, with Daniel Bessner, “Don’t let his trade policy fool you: Trump is a neoliberal,” Washington Post, March 22.

2017, “Fabrics of Uneven Development: Global Displacements and the Seams of Global Studies,” editor’s essay introducing a review symposium on Marion Werner’s Global Displacements: The Making of Uneven Development in the Caribbean in the AAG Review of Books, 5 (1): 74-85.

2016, with Katharyne Mitchell,  “The New Washington Consensus: Millennial Philanthropy and the Making of Global Market Subjects,” Antipode, 48, 3: 724-749.

2016, with Jamie Peck, “Introduction to Symposium on Brett Christophers’ The Great Leveler: Capitalism and Competition in the Court of Law,” Environment and Planning A.

2015, “Health,” in Roger Lee et al, eds. Handbook of Human Geography, Thousand Oaks: Sage.

2014, “Author's Response,” response in to a book review symposium on Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration, Oxford: Wiley.

2013, “From Global Dispossession to Local Repossession: Towards a Worldly Cultural Geography of Occupy Activism,” in Nuala Johnson, Jamie Winders and Richard Schein, Handbook of Cultural Geography, Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley.

2013, Introducing Globalization: Ties, Tensions and Uneven Integration, Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley.

2013, with Dimitar Anguelov, “H1N1, Globalization and the Epidemiology of Inequality,” Health & Place, 18 (2012) 726–736.

2012, “Globalization Discourse, Geoeconomics, Neoliberalization and Philanthrocapitalism,” an interview for Exploring Geopolitics.

2012, “Debtscapes, double-agents and development: Reflections on Poverty Capital,” Antipode, 44 (2): 517 – 522.

2012, “Ethnography, Affect, Geography, and Unemployment,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2012, 102 (2): 510 – 515.

2012, “National Identity case study: How is globalization transforming the borders of national identity?” In Solem, M., Klein, P., Muñiz-Solari, O., and Ray, W., eds., AAG Center for Global Geography Education.

2011, “Global Geographies,” in Michael Brown and Richard Morrill, eds. Seattle Geographies, Seattle: University of Washington Press, pages 48 – 70.

2010, “The Look of Surveillance Returns,” in Classics in Cartography: Reflections on Influential Articles from Cartographica, edited by Martin Dodge, New York: Wiley, pages 373 – 386.

2009, “Unpacking economism and remapping the terrain of global health,” in Adrian Kay and Owain Williams, editors, Global Health Governance: Transformations, Challenges and Opportunities Amidst Globalization, New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 131 – 159.

2009, “On denationalization as neoliberalization: Biopolitics, class interest and the incompleteness of citizenship,” Political Power and Social Theory, v. 20: 287 – 300.

2008, “Political Geographies of Globalization (3): Resistance,” Progress in Human Geography, 32 (1): 1 – 18.

2008, “Fast capitalism/slow terror:  Cushy cosmopolitanism and its extraordinary others,” in Marieke de Goede and Louise Amoore, eds. Risk and the War on Terror, New York: Routledge: 133 – 157.

2007, “Geopolitical Fear, Geoeconomic Hope and the Responsibilities of Geography,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97 (2): 338 – 349. Reprinted in 2011 in Geopolitica: Revista de Geografie Politica, GeoPolitica si GeoStrategie, Anul VIII – Nr 36 – 37.

2007, “Everywhere but always somewhere: Critical geographies of the Global South,” The Global South, 1(1): 117 – 126.

2006, “A Neoliberal Nexus: Citizenship, Security and the Future of the Border,” Political Geography, 25 (2) 2006: 151 – 180.

2006, “Political Geographies of Globalization: (2) Governance,” Progress in Human Geography 30, 2 (2006): 1 - 16.

2005, with Elizabeth Brown, Dominic Corva, Heather Day, Caroline Faria,Tony Sparks, and Kirsten Varg “The World Social Forum and the Lessons for Economic Geography,” Economic Geography, 81 (4) 359 - 380.

2004, “Political Geographies of Globalization: (1) Dominance,” Progress in Human Geography, 28,6 777–794.

2004, with James Sidaway, Tim Bunnell and Carl Grundy-Warr, “Triangulating the Borderless World: Geographies of Power in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle " Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, NS 29 485–498.  Also republished online as Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) Bulletin 135

2004, “Passports into Credit Cards: On the Borders and Spaces of Neoliberal Citizenship,” in Joel Migdal ed. Boundaries and Belonging, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 251 - 283.

2004, “Nature and Tradition at the Border: Landscaping the End of the Nation State,”  in Nezar AlSayyad ed. The End of Tradition? New York: Routledge, 87 – 115.

2003, with Victoria Lawson “Entrepreneurial Political Geographies of the Global-Local Nexus,” in John Agnew, Katharyne Mitchell and Gerard O Tuathail, eds., A Companion to Political Geography, Oxford: Blackwell, pages 315 - 334.

2003, with Carolina Reid and Clare Newstead, “The Cultural Geography of Scale” in Kay Anderson, Mona Domosh, Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift, The Handbook of Cultural Geography, London: Sage, pages 485 - 497.

2003, “American Empire and Globalisation: Postcolonial Speculations on Neocolonial Enframing,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 24, 3, pages 373 - 389.

2003, with Sue Roberts and Anna Secord, “Neoliberal Geopolitics,”  Antipode, 35, 5: pages 886 – 897.

2002, “Between Post-Colonialism and Cross-Border Regionalism,” Space and Polity, 6 (2), pages 203-213.

2002, “Not a State, but a State of Mind: Cascading Cascadias and the Geo-Economics of Cross-Border Regionalism,” in Markus Perkmann and Ngai-Ling Sum, eds, Globalisation, Regionalisation and Cross-border Regions, New York: Palgrave Publishers, pages  212 - 240.

2000, “Excavating the future in Cascadia:  Geoeconomics and the imagined geographies of a cross-border region,” BC Studies, 127, Autumn, pages 5 - 44.

2000, “Chunnel Visions: Unpacking the Anticipatory Geographies of an Anglo-European borderland,” Journal of Borderland Studies, XV,1, pages 2 – 34.

2000 with Noel Castree, “Professional Geography and the Corporatization of the University: Experiences, Evaluations and Engagements” in Antipode, 32, 3, 2000: pages, 222-229.


 Click here for publications prior to 2000 as well as other essays, reviews and interviews.



Selected Presentations

"Global and Community Health," presented in an interview with Chris Benner on KSQD, 2022.

"Global Health Degree Launches at UCSC: Q & A with Matt Sparke," presented by Lookout Magazine, 2022. 

“Interdisciplinarity, global exchange, and the future of the university.” Interviewed by Gray Kochar-Lindgren for Hong Kong University, Common Core, 2017.

 “On the problems and promises of online education.” Lecture for the University of Washington’s Integrated Social Sciences BA.

Selected Recordings

COVID and the Lessons for Global and Community Health, recorded University Forum lecture for UCSC, July 20, 2020

Global Markets and Personal Impacts, online course recordings archived with EdX

Teaching Interests

Global Politics, Global Health, Global Studies, Globalization, Geopolitics, Geoeconomics, Neoliberalism, Neo-Illiberalism and the Politics of Space